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Three Essays : 











London ; 



T O 


O F 



X h e following eflays, and poem, 
I beg leave to infcribe to you. Indeed I do 
little more, than return your own : for the 
beft remarks, and obfervations in them, are 
yours. Such as may be cavilled at, I am 
perfuaded, muft be mine. 

A publifhed work is certainly a fair object 
of criticifm : but I think, my dear fir, we 
pidturefque people are a little mifunderftood 
with regard to our genera/ intention. I have 

A feveral 

( a ) 

fevefal times been furprized at finding us 
reprefented, as fuppofing, all beauty to confifl 
in piclurefque beauty — and the face of nature 
to be examined only by the rules of paint big. 
Whereas, in fact, we always fpeak a different 
language. We fpeak of the grand fcenes of 
nature, tho uninterefting in a piclurefque light, 
as having a ftrong effect on the imagination — 
often a ftronger, than when they are pro- 
perly difpofed for the pencil. We every where 
make a diflinction between fcenes, that are 
beautiful, and amujing -, and fcenes that are 
piflurefque. We examine, and admire both. 
Even artificial objects we admire, whether in a 
grand, or in a humble ftile, tho unconnected 
with picturefque beauty — the palace, and the 
cottage — the improved garden-fcene, and the 
neat homeftall. Works of tillage alfo afford 
us equal delight — the plough, the mower, the 
reaper, the hay- field, and the harveft-wane. 
In a word, we reverence, and admire the works 
of God; and look with benevolence, and 
pleafure, on the works of men. 


( iii ) 

In what then do we offend ? At the expence 
of no other fpecies of beauty, we merely en- 
deavour to illuftrate, and recommend one 
fpecies more -, which, tho among the moil 
interesting, hath never yet, fo far as I know, 
been made the fet object of investigation. 
From fcenes indeed of the piBurefque kind 
we exclude the appendages of tillage, and 
in general the works of men; which too often 
introduce precifenefs, and formality. But ex- 
cluding artificial objects from one fpecies of 
beauty, is not degrading them from all. We 
leave then the general admirer of the beauties 
of nature to his own purfuits ; nay we admire 
them with him : all we defire, is, that he 
would leave us as quietly in the poiTeffion of 
our amufements. 

Under this apology, my dear fir, I have 
ventured, in the following effays, to inlarge 
a little both on our theory, and practice. In 
the firft eflay (that we may be fairly under- 
stood) the dijlinguijhing char abler ifiic is marked, 

A 2 of 

( fo ) 

of fuch beautiful objects, as are fuited to the 
pencil. In the fecond, the mode of amufe- 
ment is pointed out, that may arife from 
viewing the fcenes of nature in a piclurefque 
light : and in the third, a few rules are given 
for fketching landfcape after nature. I have 
practifed drawing as an amufement, and re- 
laxation, for many years -, and here offer the 
refult of my experience. Some readinefs in 
execution indeed, it is fuppofed, is neceflary, 
before thefe rules can be of much fervice. 
They mean to take the young artift up, where 
the drawing-mafter leaves him. — I have only 
to add farther, that as feveral of the rules, and 
principles here laid down, have been touched 
in different piclurefque works, which I have 
given the public, I have endeavoured not to 
repeat myfelf : and where I could not throw 
new light on a fubjedl, I have haftened over 
it : — only in a work of this kind, it was ne- 
ceffary to bring all my principles together. 


( v ) 

With regard to the poem, annexed to thefe 
effays, fomething more mould be faid. As 
that fmall part of the public, who perfonally 
know me; and that mil fmaller part, whom 
I have the honour to call my friends, may 
think me guilty of prefumption in attempting 
a work of this kind, I beg leave to give the 
following hiftory of it. 

Several years ago, I amufed myfelf with 
writing a few lines in . verfe on landfcape- 
painting ; and afterwards fent them* as a frag- 
ment (for they were not finimed) to amufe 
a friend.* I had no other purpofe. My 
friend told me, he could not fay much for 
my poetry ; but as my rules ; he thought, 
were good, he wifhed me to nnifh my frag- 
ment ; and if I mould not like it as a poem, I 
might turn it into an ejfay in profe. — As this 
was only what I expected, I was not difap- 
pointed; tho not encouraged to proceed. So 


Edward Forfter efq; of Walthamftow. 

I trou- 

( vi ) 

I troubled my head no farther with my 

Some time after, another friend,* finding 
fault with my mode of defcribing the lakes, 
and mountains of Cumberland, and Weftmore- 
land, as too poetical, I told him the fate of 
my fragment; lamenting the hardfhip of my 

cafe when I wrote verfe, one friend called 

it profe ; and when I wrote profe, another 
friend called it verfe. In his next letter he 
defired to fee my verfes -, and being pleafed 
with the fubject, he offered, if I would finifh 
my poem (however carelefsly as to metrical 
exactnefs) he would adjuft the verification. 
But he found, he had engaged in a more 
arduous affair, than he expected. My rules, 
and tecnical terms were ftubborn, and would 
not eafily glide into verfe ; and I was as ftub- 
born, as they, and would not relinquish the 
fcientific part for the poetry. My friend's 

* Rev. Mr. Mafon. 


( vii ) 

good-nature therefore generally gave way, and 
fullered many lines to ftand, and many altera- 
tions to be made, which his own good tafle 
could not approve.* I am afraid therefore I 
mufl appear to the world, as having fpoiled 
a good poem; and mufl fhelter myfelf, and 
it under thofe learned reafons, which have 
been given for putting Propria quce marifats, 
and As in prtefenti, into verfe. If the rules 
have injured the poetry; as rules at leaf!:, T 

* Extract of a letter from Mr. Mafon. 

- ■- ■ " I have inferted confeientioufly every 

" word, and phrafe, you have altered ; except the awkward 
" word clump, which I have uniformly difcarded, whenever it 
" offered itfelf to me in my Englifh garden, which you may 
" imagine it did frequently : in it's Head I have always 
tf ufed tuft. I have ventured therefore to infert it adjeftively ; 
" and I hope, I fhall be forgiven. Except in this fingle 
" inftance, I know not that I have deviated in the leaft from 
*' the alterations, ycu fent. I now quit all that relates to 
(t the poem, not without fome felf-fatisfa&ion in thinking it is 
" over: for, to own the truth, had I thought you would have 
" expected fuch almoft mathematical exactitude of terms, as I 
* ( find you do ; and in confequence turned lines tolerably 
" poetical, into profaic, for the fake of precision, I mould 
" never have ventured to give you my afliftance." 


( viii ) 

hope, they will meet your approbation. I am, 
dear fir, with the greateft efteem, and regard, 

Your fincere, 

and moil obedient, 

humble fervant, 


Vicar* s-hilly 
Oil. 12, 1791. 





DISPUTES about beauty might perhaps 
be involved in lefs confufion, if a 
distinction were eftablifhed, which 
certainly exifts, between fuch objects as are 
beautiful, and fuch as are piBurefque — between 
thofe, which pleafe the eye in their natural 
Jlate ; and thofe, which pleafe from fome 
quality, capable of being illujlrated in painting. 

Ideas of beauty vary with the object, and 
with the eye of the fpectator. Thofe arti- 
ficial forms appear generally the moil beau- 
tiful, with which we have been the moil 
converfant. Thus the ftone-mafon fees beau- 
ties in a well -jointed wall, which efcape the 
architect, who furveys the building under a 
different idea. And thus the painter, who 

B 2 compares 

( 4 ) 

compares his object with the rules of his 
art, fees it in a different light from the man 
of general tafte, who furveys it only as fimply 

As this difference therefore between the beau- 
tiful, and the piclurefque appears really to exift, 
and muff depend on fome peculiar conftruction 
of the object ; it may be worth while to ex- 
amine, what that peculiar conftruction is. 
We inquire not into the general fources of 
beauty, either in nature, or in reprefentation. 
This would lead into a nice, and fcientific 
difcuffion, in which it is not our purpofe to 
engage. The queftion fimply is, What is 
that quality in objects, which particularly marks 
them as piBurefque ? 

In examining the real objetl, we fhall find, 
one fource of beauty arifes from that fpecies 
of elegance, which we call fmoothnefs, or 
neatnefs ; for the terms are nearly fynonymous. 
The higher the marble is polifhed, the brighter 
the filver is rubbed, and the more the maho- 
gany mines, the more each is confidered as 
an object of beauty : as if the eye delighted in 
gliding fmoothly over a furface. 

In the clafs of larger objects the fame idea 
prevails. In a pile of building we wifh to 


( 5 ) 

fee neatnefs in every part added to the elegance 
of the architecture. And if we examine a 
piece of improved pleafure-ground, every thing 
rough, and flovenly offends. 

Mr. Burke, enumerating the properties of 
beauty, confiders fmoothnefs as one of the 
mofr. erTential. " A very confiderable part 
of the effect of beauty, fays he, is owing to 
this quality : indeed the mofh confiderable : 
for take any beautiful object, and give it a 
broken, and rugged furface, and however 
well-formed it may be in other refpec~ls, it 
pleafes no longer. Whereas, let it want ever 
fo many of the other conitituents, if it want 
not this, it becomes more pleafing, than 

almoft. all the others without it."* 

How far Mr. Burke may be right in making 
fmoothnefs the moji confiderable fource of beauty, 
I rather doubt-)-. A confiderable one it cer- 
tainly is. 


* Upon the fublime and beautiful, p. 213. 

f Mr. Burke is probably not very accurate in what he 

farther fays on the connection between beauty, and diminutives. 

Beauty excites love ; and a loved object is generally 

characterized by diminutives. But it does not follow, that 

all objects characterized by diminutives, tho they may be fo 

B 3 becaufe 

( 6 ) 

Thus then, we fuppofe, the matter ftands 
with regard to beautiful objeBs in general. But 
in piBurefque reprefentation it feems fomewhat 
odd, yet we mall perhaps find it equally 
true, that the reverfe of this is the cafe ; 
and that the ideas of neat and fmooth, inftead 
of being picturefque, in fact difqualify the 
object, in which they re fide, from any pre- 

tenfions to pidiurefque beauty. Nay farther, 

we do not fcruple to affert, that roughnefs 
forms the moft eiTential point of difference 
between the beautiful, and the piflurefque ; 
as it feems to be that particular quality, 
which makes objects chiefly pleafing in paint- 
ing. — I ufe the general term roughnefs; but 
properly fpeaking roughnefs relates only to 

becaufe they are loved, are therefore beautiful. We often 
love them for their moral qualities; their affections.; their 
gentlenefs ; or their docility. Beauty, no doubt, awakens 
love ; but it alfo excites admiration, and refpecT:. This com- 
bination forms the fentiment, which prevails, when we look 
at the Apollo of Belvidere, and the Niobe. No man of 
nice difcernment would characterize thcfe ftatues by diminu- 
tives. There is then a beauty, between which and dimi- 
nutives there is no relation ; but which, on the contrary, 
excludes them : and in the defcription of figures, poffeffed 
of that fpecies of beauty, we feek for terms, which recommend 
them more to our admiration, than our hue. 


( 7 ) 

the furfaces of bodies : when we fpeak of 
their delineation, we ufe the word ruggednefs. 
Both ideas however equally enter into the 
picturefque ; and both are obfervable in the 
fmaller, as well as in the larger parts of 
nature — in the outline, and bark of a tree, 
as in the rude fummit, and craggy fides of 
a mountain. 

Let us then examine our theory by an ap- 
peal to experience ; and try how far thefe 
qualities enter into the idea of piBurefque 
beauty ; and how far they mark that dif- 
ference among objects, which is the ground 
of our inquiry. 

A piece of Palladian architecture may be 
elegant in the laft degree. The proportion of 
it's parts — the propriety of it's ornaments — and 
the fymmetry of the whole, may be highly plea- 
ling. But if we introduce it in a picture, it 
immediately becomes a formal object, and 
ceafes to pleafe. Should we wifri to give it 
picturefque beauty, we mult, ufe the mallet, 
inftead of the chilfel : we muft beat down one 
half of it, deface the other, and throw the 
mutilated members around in heaps. In Lhort, 
from a fmooth building we mull turn it into a 

B 4 rough 

( 8 ) 

rough ruin. No painter, who had the choice 
of the two objects, would hefitate a moment. 

Again, why does an elegant piece of garden- 
ground make no figure on canvas ? The fhape 
is pleating; the combination of the objects, 
harmonious j and the winding of the walk in 
the very line of beauty. All this is true ; but 
the fmoothnefs of the whole, tho right, and as 
it mould be in nature, offends in picture. 
Turn the lawn into a piece of broken ground : 
plant rugged oaks inftead of flowering fhrubs : 
break the edges of the walk : give it the rude- 
nefs of a road : mark it with wheel-tracks -> 
and fcatter around a few flones, and brum- 
wood ; in a word, inftead of making the 
whole fmooth, make it rough ; and you make 
it alfo piffurefque. All the other ingredients 
of beauty it already porTefied. 

You fit for your picture. The mailer, at 
your defire, paints your head combed fmooth, 
and powdered from the barber's hand. This 
may give it a more ftriking likenefs, as it is 
more the refemblance of the real object. But 
is it therefore a more pleafing picture ? I fear 
not. Leave Reynolds to himfelf, and he will 
make it picturefque : he will throw the hair 
difhevelled about your moulders. Virgil would 


( 9 ) 

have done the fame. It was his ufual practice 
in all his portraits. In his figure of Afcanius, 
we have the fnfos crines ; and in his portrait 
of Venus, which is highly nnifhed in every 
part, the artifl has given her hair, 

diff under e vends.* 

That lovely face of youth fmiling with all 
it's fweet, dimpling charms, how attractive is 
it in life ! how beautiful in reprefentation ! 
It is one of thofe objects, that pleafe, as many 
do, both in nature, and on canvas. But 

* The roughnefs, which Virgil gives the hair of Venus, and 
Afcanius, we may fuppofe to be of a different kind from the 
fqualid roughnefs, which he attributes to Charon : 

Portitor has horrendus aquas, et flumina fervat 
Terribili fqualore Charon, cui plurima mento 
Canities inculta jacet. ' — • 

Charon's roughnefs is, in it's kind, pidlurefque alfo ; but the 
roughnefs here intended, and which can only be introduced in 
elegant figures, is of that kind, which is merely oppofed to 
hair in nice order. In defcribing Venus, Virgil probably 
thought hair, when Jlreami?ig in the wind, both beautiful, and 
pifturefque, from it's undulating form, and varied tints ; and 
from a kind of life, which it affumes in motion ; tho perhaps 
it's chief recommendation to him, at the moment, was, that it 
was a feature of the character, which Venus was then affuming. 


( io ) 

would you fee the human face in it's highefl 
form of piBurefque beauty, examine that pa- 
triarchal head. What is it, which gives that 
dignity of character ; that force of expreflion ; 
thofe lines of wifdom, and experience ; that 
energetic meaning, fo far beyond the rofy hue, 
or even the bewitching fmile of youth ? What 
is it, but the forehead furrowed with wrinkles ? 
the prominent cheek-bone, catching the light ? 
the mufcles of the cheek ftrongly marked, and 
loling themfelves in the maggy beard ? and, 
above all, the auftere brow, projecting over 
the eye — that feature which particularly ftruck 
Homer in his idea of Jupiter*, and which 


* It is much more probable, that the poet copied forms from 
the fculptor, who muft be fuppofed to underftand them better, 
from having ftudied them more ; than that the fculptor fhould 
copy them from the poet. Artifts however have taken advan- 
tage of the pre-poffeffion of the world for Homer to fecure 
approbation to their works by acknowledging them to be re- 
flected images of his conceptions. So Phidias aflured his 
countrymen, that he had taken his Jupiter from the defcription 
of that god in the flrft book of Homer. The fadl is, none oi' 
the features contained in that image, except the brow, can be 
rendered by fculpture. But he kr.ew what advantage fuch 
ideas, as his art could exprefs, would receive from being con- 
nected in the mind of the fpe&ator with thofe furnifhed by 
poetry ; and from the juft partiality of men for fuch a 


( «« ) 

he had probably feen finely reprefented in fome 
ftatue ? in a word, what is it, but the rough 
touches of age ? 

As an object of the mixed kind, partaking 
both of the beautiful, and the pidlurefque, we 
admire the human figure alfo. The lines, and 
furface of a beautiful human form are fo in- 
finitely varied ; the lights and fhades, which it 
receives, are fo exquifitely tender in fome 
parts, and yet fo round, and bold in others ; 
it's proportions are fo juft ; and it's limbs fo 
fitted to receive all the beauties of grace, and 
contrail ; that even the face, in which the 
charms of intelligence, and fenfibility refide, 
is almoft loft in the comparifon. But altho 
the human form, in a quiefcent ilate, is thus 

poet. He feems therefore to have been as well acquainted with 
the mind of man, as with his fhape, and face. — If by wxhw 
tno(p£V7h we underftand, as I think we may, a projecting bro-iv, 
which cafts a broad, and deep fiadonu over the eye, Clarke has 
rendered it ill by nigris fuperciliis, which moft people would 
conftrue into black eye-bro-.vs. Nor has Pope, tho he affected 
a knowledge of painting, translated it more happily by fable 
bro-zvs. — But if Phidias had had nothing to recommend him, 
except his having availed himfelf of the only feature in the poet, 
which was accommodated to his art, we ihould not have heard 
of inquirers wondering from whence he had drawn his ideas ; 
nor of the compliment, which it gave him an opportunity of 
paying to Homer. 

beautiful ; 

( «* ) 

beautiful ; yet the more it's fmooth fur/ace is 
ruffled, if I may fo fpeak, the more pictu- 
refque it appears. When it is agitated by 
paffion, and it's mufcles fwoln by ftrong ex- 
ertion, the whole frame is fhewn to the moft 

advantage. But when we fpeak of mufcles 

fwoln by exertion, we mean only natural exer- 
tions, not an affected difplay of anatomy, in 
which the mufcles, tho juftly placed, may ftill 
be overcharged. 

It is true, we are better pleafed with the 
ufual reprefentations we meet with of the 
human form in a quiefcent ftate, than in an 
agitated one : but this is merely owing to our 
feldom feeing it naturally reprefented in ftrong 
action. Even among the beft mafters we fee 
little knowledge of anatomy. One will inflate 
the mufcles violently to produce fome trifling 
effect : another will fcarce fwell them in the 
production of a laboured one. The eye foon 
learns to fee a defect, tho unable to remedy it. 
But when the anatomy is perfectly juft, the 
human body will always be more picturefque 
in action, than at reft. The great difficulty 
indeed of reprefenting ftrong mufcular motion, 
feems to have ftruck the ancient mafters of 
fculpture : fcr it is certainly much harder to 


( '3 ) 

model from a figure in ftrong, momentary 
action, which muft, as it were, be fhot flying; 
than from one, fitting, or {landing, which the 
artift may copy at leifure. Amidft the variety 
of ftatues tranfmitted from their hands, we 
have only three, or four in very fpirited ac- 
tion.* Yet when we fee an erfed: of this kind 
well executed, our admiration is greatly in- 
creafed. Who does not admire the Laocoon 
more than the Antinous ? 

Animal life, as well as human, is, in gene- 
ral, beautiful both in nature, and on canvas. 
We admire the horfe, as a real objeft ; the 
elegance of his form; the itatelinefs of his 

* Tho there are only perhaps two or three of the firft an- 
tique ftatues in very fpirited adlion — the Laocoon, the fighting 
gladiator, and the boxers — yet there are feveral others, which 
are in aBion — the Apollo Belvidere — Michael Angclo's Torfo — 
Arria and Psetus— the Pietas militaris, fometimes called the 
Ajax, of which the Pafquin at Rome is a part, and of which 
there is a repetition more intire., tho ftill much mutilated, at 
Florence — the Alexander, and Bucephalus ; and perhaps fome 
others, which occur not to my memory. The paucity however 
of them, even if a longer catalogue could be produced, I think, 
ihews that the ancient fculptors confidered the reprefentation of 
fpirited attion as an achievement. The moderns have been lefs 
daring in attempting it. But I believe connoifleurs universally 
give the preference to thofe ftatues, in which the great mailers 
have fo fuccefsfully exhibited animated aftion. 

tread ; 

( H ) 

tread ; the fpirit of all his motions ; and the 
gloflinefs of his coat. We admire him alfo 
in reprefentation. But as an object of pictu- 
refque beauty, we admire more the worn-out 
cart-horfe, the cow, the goat, or the afs ; 
whofe harder lines, and rougher coats, exhibit 
more the graces of the pencil. For the truth 
of this we may examine Berghem's pictures : 
we may examine the fmart touch of Rofa of 
Tivoli. The lion with his rough mane ; the 
briftly boar ; and the ruffled plumage of the 
eagle*, are all objects of this kind. Smooth- 

* The idea of the ruffled plumage of the eagle is taken from 
the celebrated eagle of Pindar, in his nrft Pythian ode ; which 
has exercifed the pens of feveral poets ; and is equally poetical, 
and picturefque. He is introduced as an inftance of the power 
of mufic. In Gray's ode on the progrefs of poefy we have 
the following picture of him. 

Perching on the fceptered hand 

Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king 

With ruffled plumes, and flagging wing : 

Quenched in dark clouds of {lumber lie 

The terror of his beak, and lightening of his eye. 

Akenfide's picture of him, in his hymn to the Naiads, is rather 
a little ftimy painted. 

With flackened wings, 

While now the folemn concert breathes around, 


( '5 ) 

coated animals could not produce fo pictu- 
refque an effect. 

But when the painter thus prefers the cart- 
horfe, the cow, or the afs to other objects 
more beautiful in tbemfehes, he does not cer- 
tainly recommend his art to thofe, whofe love 
of beauty makes them anxioufly feek, by what 
means it's fleeting forms may be fixed. 

Suggeftions of this kind are ungrateful. 
The art of painting allows you all you wifh. 
You deiire to have a beautiful object painted — 
your horfe, for inftance, led out of the liable 

Incumbent on the fceptre of his lord 
Sleeps the ftern eagle ; by the numbered notes 
Poflefled ; and fatiate with the melting tone ; 
Sovereign of birds. ■ 

Weft's picture, efpecially the two laft lines, is a very good 

The bird's fierce monarch drops his vengeful ire, 
Perched on the fceptre of th' Olympian king, 

The thrilling power of harmony he feels 
And indolently hangs his flagging wing ; 

While gentle fleep his clofing eyelid feals, 
And o'er his heaving limbs, in loofe array, 

To every balmy gale the ruffling feathers play. 


( 16 ) 

in all his pampered beauty. The art of paint- 
ing is ready to accommodate you. You have 
the beautiful form you admired in nature ex- 
actly transferred to canvas. Be then fatisfied. 
The art of painting has given you what you 
wanted. It is no injury to the beauty of your 
Arabian, if the painter think he could have 
given the graces of his art more forcibly to 
your cart-horfe. 

But does it not depreciate his art, if he give 
up a beautiful form, for one lefs beautiful, 
merely becaufe he could have given it the 
graces of his art more forcibly — becaufe it's fharp 
lines afford him a greater facility of execu- 
tion ? Is the fmart touch of a pencil the 
grand defideratum of painting ? Does he dif- 
cover nothing in piBurefque objects, but qualities, 
which admit of being rendered with jpirit I 

I mould not vindicate him, if he did. At 
the fame time, a free execution is fo very 
fafcinating a part of painting, that we need 
not wonder, if the artift lay a great ftrefs 
upon it. — It is not however intirely owing, 
as fome imagine, to the difficulty of matter- 
ing an elegant line, that he prefers a rough 
one. In part indeed this may be the cafe; 


( '7 ) 

for if an elegant line be not delicately hit 
off, it is the moft infipid of all lines : whereas 
in the defcription of a rough object, an error 
in delineation is not eafily feen. However 
this is not the whole of the matter. A 
free, bold touch is in itfelf pleafing.* In 
elegant figures indeed there muft. be a delicate 
outline — at leaft a line true to nature : yet 
the furfaces even of fuch figures may be 
touched with freedom ; and in the appen- 
dages of the compofition there mufi: be a 
mixture of rougher objects, or there will be 
a want of contrail. In landfcape univerfally 
the rougher objects are admired ; which give 
the freeft fcope to execution. If the pencil 
be timid, or hefitating, little beauty refults* 
The execution then only is pleafing, when 
the hand firm, and yet decifive, freely touches 
the characteristic parts of each object. 

* A ftroke may be called free, when there is no appearance 
of conftraint. It is bold, when a part is given for the whole, 
which it cannot fail of fuggefting. This is the laconifm of 
genius. But fometimes it may be free, and yet fuggeft only 
how eafily a line, which means nothing, may be executed. 
Such a ftroke is not held, but impudent. 

C If 

( i8 ) 

If indeed, either in literary, or In pic- 
turefque compofition you endeavour to draw 
the reader, or the fpectator from the fubjecl to 
the mode of executing it, your affectation* dif- 
gufts. At the fame time, if fome care, and 
pains be not beftowed on the execution, your 
flovenlinefs difgufts, as much. Tho perhaps 
the artifl has more to fay, than the man of let- 
ters, for paying attention to his execution. A 
truth is a truth, whether delivered in the lan- 
guage of a philofopher, or a peafant : and the 
intellect receives it as fuch. But the artift, who 
deals in lines, furfaces, and colours, which 
are an immediate addrefs to the eye, con- 
ceives the very truth itfelf concerned in his 
mode of reprefenting it. Guido's angel, and 

* Language, like light, is a medium ; and the true phi- 
lofophic ftile, like light from a north-window, exhibits objefls 
clearly, and diftin&ly, without foliciting attention to itfelf. 
In painting fubjefts of amufement indeed, language may 
gild fomewhat more, and colour with the dies of fancy : but 
where information is of more importance, than entertainment, 
tho you cannot throw too firong a light, you Ihould carefully 
avoid a coloured one. The ftile of fome writers refembles a 
bright light placed between the eye, and the thing to be 
looked at. The light fhews itfelf; and hides the objeft : 
and, it muft be allowed, the execution of fome painters is as 
impertinent, as the ftile of fuch writers. 



( «9 ) 

the angel on a fign-poft, are very different 
beings > but the whole of the difference con- 
fifls in an artful application of lines, furfaces, 
and colours. 

It is not however merely for the fake of 
his execution, that the artift values a rough 
object. He finds it in many other refpects 
accommodated to his art. In the firft place, 
his compofition requires it. If the hiftory- 
painter threw all his draperies fmooth over 
his figures, his groups, and combinations 
would be very awkward. And in landfcape- 
fainting fmooth objects would produce no 
compofition at all. In a mountain-fcene what 
compofition could arife from the corner of 
a fmooth knoll coming forward on one fide, 
interfered by a fmooth knoll on the other; 
with a fmooth plain perhaps in the middle, 
and a fmooth mountain in the diftance. The 
very idea is difgufting. Picturefque compo- 
fition confifts in uniting in one whole a variety 
of parts ; and thefe parts can only be obtained 
from rough objects. If the fmooth moun- 
tains, and plains were broken by different 
objects, the compofition might be good, on 
a fuppofition the great lines of it were fo 

C 2 Variety 

( 2° ) 

Variety too is equally necefTary in his com- 
pofition : fo is contrajl. Both thefe he finds 
in rough objects ; and neither of them in 
fmooth. Variety indeed, in fome degree, he 
may find in the outline of a fmooth object : 
but by no means enough to fatisfy the eye, 
without including the furface alfo. 

From rough objects alfo he feeks the effect 
of light and JJjade t which they are as well 
difpofed to produce, as they are the beauty 
of compolition. One uniform light, or one 
uniform made produces no effect. It is the 
various furfaces of objects, fometimes turn- 
ing to the light in one way, and fometimes 
in another, that give the painter his choice 
of opportunities in marling, and graduating 
both his lights, and mades. — The ric/mefs 
alfo of the light depends on the breaks, and 
little receffes, which it finds on the furfaces 
of bodies. What the painter calls richnefs 
on a furface, is only a variety of little parts ; 
on which the light mining, mews all it's 
fmall inequalities, and roughnefles -, and in 

the painter's language, inriches it. The 

beauty alfo of catching lights arifes from the 
roughnefs of objects. What the painter calls 
a catching light is a ilrong touch of light 


C *« ) 

on fome prominent part of a furface, while 
the reft is in fhadow. A fmooth furface has 
no fuch prominences. 

In colouring alfo, rough objects give the 
painter another advantage. Smooth bodies 
are commonly as uniform in their colour, as 
they are in their furface. In gloffy objects, 
tho fmooth, the colouring may fometimes 
vary. In general however it is otherwife -, 
in the objects of landfcape, particularly. The 
fmooth fide of a hill is generally of one 
uniform colour; while the fractured rock 
prefents it's grey furface, adorned with patches 
of greenfward running down it's guttered fides; 
and the broken ground is every where varied 
with an okery tint, a grey gravel, or a leaden- 
coloured clay : fo that in fact the rich colours 
of the ground arife generally from it's broken 

From fuch reafoning then we infer, that 

it is not merely for the fake of his execution> 

that the painter prefers rough objects to 

fmooth. The very effence of his art requires 



( » ) 

As picturefque beauty therefore fo greatly 
depends on rough objects, are we to exclude 
every idea of fmoothnefs from mixing with it? 
Are we ftruck with no pleafing image, when 
the lake is fpread upon the canvas ; the mar- 
morcum cequor, pure, limpid, fmooth, as the 
polifhed mirror ? 

We acknowledge it to be picturefque : but 
we mull at the fame time recoiled:, that, in 
fact, the fmoothnefs of the lake is more in 
reality j than in appearance. Were it fpread 
upon the canvas in one fimple hue, it would 
certainly be a dull, fatiguing object. But to 
the eye it appears broken by fhades of various 
kinds ; by the undulations of the water ; or by 
reflections from all the rough objects in it's 
neighbourhood . 

It is thus too in other glorTy bodies. Tho 
the horfe, in a rough ftate, as we have juft 
obferved, or worn down with labour, is more 
adapted to the pencil, than when his fides 
fhine with brufhing, and high-feeding; yet 
in this latter ftate alfo he is certainly a pictu- 
refque object. But it is not his fmooth, and 
mining coat, that makes him fo. It is the 
apparent interruption of that fmoothnefs by a 
variety of fhades, and colours, which produces 


( 23 ) 

the effect. Such a play of mufcles appears, 
every where, through the iinenefs of his fkin, 
gently fwelling, and finking into each other— 
he is all over fo lubricus afpici, the reflections 
of light are fo continually fhifting upon him, 
and playing into each other, that the eye never 
conliders the fmoothnefs of the furface ; but 
is amufed with gliding up, and down, among 
thefe endlefs traniitions, which in fome degree, 
fupply the room otroughnefs. 

It is thus too in the plumage of birds. 
Nothing can be fofter, nothing fmoother to 
the touch ; and yet it is certainly picturefque. 
But it is not the fmoothnefs of the furface, 
which produces the effect — it is not this we 
admire : it is the breaking of the colours : 
it is the bright green, or purple, changing 
perhaps into a rich azure, or velvet black ; 
from thence taking a femitint; and fo on 
through all the varieties of colour. Or if the 
colour be not changeable, it is the harmony 
we admire in thefe elegant little touches of na- 
ture's pencil. The fmoothnefs of the furface is 
only the ground of the colours. In itfelf we 
admire it no more, than we do the fmooth- 
nefs of the canvas, which receives the colours 
of the picture. Even the plumage of the fwan, 
C 4 which 

( 24 ) 

which to the inaccurate obferver appears only 
of one fimple hue, is in fact varied with a 
thoufand foft fhadows, and brilliant touches, 
at once difcoverable to the picturefque eye. 

Thus too a piece of polifhed marble may 
be picturefque ; but it is only, when the polifh 
brings out beautiful veins, which in appearance 
break the furface by a variety of lines, and 
colours. Let the marble be perfectly white, 
and the effect vanifhes. Thus alfo a mirror 
may have picturefque beauty ; but it is only 
from it's reflections. In an unreflecting ftate, 
it is inlipid. 

In ftatuary we fometimes fee an inferior 
artift give his marble a glofs, thinking to atone 
for his bad workmanfhip by his excellent 
polifh. The effect mews in how fmall a 
degree fmoothnefs enters into the idea of the 
picturefque. When the light plays on the 
mining coat of a pampered horfe, it plays 
among the lines, and mufcles of nature ; and 
is therefore founded in truth. But the polifh 
of marble-fleih is unnatural*. The lights 


* On all human flefh held between the eye and the light, 
there is a degree of polifh. I fpeak not here of fuch a polifh 


( 2 5 ) 

therefore are falfe ; and fmoothnefs being here 
one of the chief qualities to admire, we are 
difgufted ; and fay, it makes bad, worfe. 

After all, we mean not to affert, that even 
a fimple fmooth furface is in no lituation pic- 
turefque. In contrafi it certainly may be : 
nay in contrail it is often neceffary. The 
beauty of an old head is greatly improved by 
the fmoothnefs of the bald pate ; and the 
rougher parts of the rock mull neceffarily be 
fet off with the fmoother. But the point lies 
here : to make an object in a peculiar man- 
ner piclurefque, there ?nufi be a proportion of 
ronglmefs ; fo much at leaft, as to make an 
oppofition ; which in an object limply beau- 
tiful, is unnecefTary. 

Some quibbling opponent may throw out, 
that wherever there is fmoothnefs, there mull 
alfo be roughnefs. The fmootheft. plain con- 
fifts of many rougher parts ; and the roughen: 
rock of many fmoother; and there is fuch a 
variety of degrees in both, that it is hard to 

as this, which wrought marble always, in a degree, poffeffes, 
as well as human flefh ; but of the higheft polilh, which can be 
given to marble ; and which has always a very bad effect. It" 
I wanted an example, the bull of arch-bifhop Boulter in Weft- 
minfter- abbey would afford a very glaring one. 


( 26 ) 

fay, where you have the precife ideas of rough, 
and fmooth. 

To this it is enough, that the province of 
the picturefque eye is to furvey nature , not to 
anatomize matter. It throws it's glances around 
in the broad-caft ftile. It comprehends an 
extenfive tract at each fweep. It examines 
•parts y but never defcends to particles. 

Having thus from a variety of examples en- 
deavoured to fhew, that roughnefs either real, 
or apparent, forms an effential difference be- 
tween the beautiful, and the piBurefque ; it 
may be expected, that we mould point out 
the reafon of this difference. It is obvious 
enough, why the painter prefers rough objects 
to fmooth* : but it is not fo obvious, why the 
quality of roughnefs mould make an effential 
difference between the objects of nature, and 
the objects of artificial reprefentation. 

To this queftion, we might anfwer, that 
the picturefque eye abhors art ; and delights 
folely in nature : and that as art abounds 
with regularity, which is only another name 

* See page 19, &c. 


( 27 ) 

for fmoothnefs -, and the images of nature with 
irregularity, which is only another name for 
roughnefs, we have here a folution of our 

But is this folution fatisfactory ? I fear not. 
Tho art often abounds with regularity, it does 
not follow, that all art muft necefiarily do 
fo. The picturefque eye, it is true, finds 
it's chief objects in nature ; but it delights 
alfo in the images of art, if they are marked 
with the characteriftics, which it requires. 
A painters nature is whatever he imitates', 
whether the object be what is commonly 
called natural, or artificial. Is there a greater 
ornament of landfcape, than the ruins of a 
caftle ? What painter rejects it, becaufe it 

is artificial ? What beautiful effects does 

Vandervelt produce from mipping ? In the 
hands of fuch a mafter it furniihes almofl 
as beautiful forms, as any in the whole circle 

of picturefque objects ? And what could 

the hiftory-painter do, without his draperies 
to combine, contraft, and harmonize his 
figures ? Uncloathed, they could never be 
grouped. How could he tell his ftory, with- 
out arms ; religious utenfils ; and the rich 
furniture of banquets ? Many of thefe con- 

( 28 ) 

tribute greatly to embellifh his pictures with 
pleafing fhapes. 

Shall we then feek the folution of our 
queftion in the great foundation of picturefque 
beauty ? in the happy union of Jimplicity and 
variety; to which the rough ideas effentially 
contribute. An extended plain is a fimple 
object. It is the continuation only of one 
uniform idea. But the mere Jimplicity of a 
plain produces no beauty. Break the fur- 
face of it, as you did your pleafure-ground ; 
add trees, rocks, and declivities ; that is, 
give it roughnefs, and you give it alfo variety. 
Thus by inriching the parts of a united whole 
with roughnejs, you obtain the combined idea 
of Jimplicity ', and variety; from whence refults 

the picturefque. Is this a fatisfactory anfwer 

to our queftion ? 

By no means. Simplicity and variety are 
fources of the beautiful, as well as of the 
piaurefque. Why does the architect break 
the front of his pile with ornaments ? Is 
it not to add variety to fmplicity ? Even 
the very black-fmith acknowledges this prin- 
ciple by forming ringlets, and bulbous circles 
on his tongs, and pokers. In nature it is 
the fame ; and your plain will juft as much 


( 29 ) 

be improved in reality by breaking it, as upon 
canvas. In a garden-fcene the idea is dif- 
ferent. There every object is of the neat, 
and elegant kind. What is otherwife, is in- 
harmonious, and roughnefs would be diforder. 

Shall we then change our ground ; and feck 
an anfwer to our queftion in the nature of 
the art of painting ? As it is an art Jiriclly imi- 
tative, thofe objects will of courfe appear 
moft advantageoufly to the picturefque eye, 
which are the moft eaiily imitated. The 
ftronger the features are, the ftronger will be 
the effect of imitation; and as rough objects 
have the ftrongeff. features, they will confe- 
quently, when reprefented, appear to moff. 
advantage. Is this anfwer more fatisfactory ? 

Very little, in truth. Every painter, knows 
that a fmooth object may be as eafily, and as 
well imitated, as a rough one. 

Shall we then take an oppofite ground, and 
fay juft the reverfe (as men preffed with dif- 
ficulties will fay any thing) that painting is 
?iot an art Jiriclly imitative, but rather deceptive 
— that by an affemblage of colours, and a 
peculiar art in fpreading them, the painter 
gives a femblance of nature at a proper dif- 
tance ; which at hand, is quite another thing 

— that 

( 3° ) 

—-that thofe objects, which we call picturefque, 
are only fuch as are more adapted to this art 
— and that as this art is mofl concealed in 
rough touches, rough objects are of courfe 
the moll: picturefque. Have we now at- 
tained a fatisfactory account of the matter ? 

Juft as much fo, as before. Many painters 
of note did not ufe the rough ftile of painting ; 
and yet their pictures are as admirable, as the 
pictures of thofe, who did : nor are rough 
objects lefs picturefque on their canvas, than 
on the canvas of others : that is, they paint 
rough objects fmoothly. 

Thus foiled, mail we in the true fpirit of 
inquiry, perfift. ; or honeftly give up the caufe, 
and own we cannot fearch out the fource of 
this difference ? I am afraid this is the truth, 
whatever airs of dogmatizing we may a flume. 
Inquiries into principles rarely end in fatisfac- 
tion. Could we even gain fatisfaction in our 
prefent queftion, new doubts would arife. The 
very firfl principles of our art would be quef- 
tioned. Difficulties would Hart up veflibulum 
ante ipfum. We mould be afked, What is 

beauty ? What is tafte ? Let us ftep afide 

a moment, and liften to the debates of the 
learned on thefe heads. They will at leaft 


( 3i ) 

(hew us, that however we may wifh to fix 
principles, our inquiries are feldom fatisfadtory. 

One philofopher will tell us, that tafte is 
only the improvement of our own ideas. Every 
man has naturally his proportion of tafte. The 
feeds of it are innate. All depends on culti- 

Another philofopher following the analogy 
of nature, obferves, that as all mens faces 
are different, we may well fuppofe their minds 
to be fo likewife. He rejects the idea there- 
fore of innate tafte ; and in the room of this 
makes utility the ftandard both of tafte, and 

Another philofopher thinks the idea of utility 
as abfurd, as the laft did that of innate tafte. 
What, cries he, can I not admire the beauty 
of a refplendent fun-fet, till I have investigated 
the utility of that peculiar radiance in the at- 
mofphere ? He then wifhes we had a little 
lefs philofophy amongft us, and a little more 
common fenfe. Common fenfe is defpifed like 
other common things : but, in his opinion, 
if we made common fenfe the criterion in matters 
of art, as well as fcience, we mould be nearer 
the truth. 

A fourth 

( 32 ) 

A fourth phllofopher apprehends common fenfe 
to be our ftandard only in the ordinary affairs 
of life. The bounty of nature has furnifhed us 
with various other fenfes fuited to the objects, 
among which we converfe : and with regard 
to matters of tafte, it has fupplied us with 
what, he doubts not, we all feel within our- 
felves, a fenfe of beauty. 

Pooh ! fays another learned inquirer, what 
is a fenfe of beauty f Senfe is a vague idea, and 
fo is beauty ; and it is impomble that any thing 
determined can refult from terms fo inaccurate. 
But if we lay afide a fenfe of beauty, and adopt 
proportion, we mall all be right. Proportion is 
the great principle of tafte, and beauty. We 
admit it both in lines, and colours ; and indeed 
refer all our ideas of the elegant kind to it's 

True, fays an admirer of the antique ; but 
this proportion mull: have a rule, or we gain 
nothing : and a rule of proportioii there cer- 
tainly is : but we may inquire after it in vain. 
The fecret is loft. The ancients had it. They 
well knew the principles of beauty ; and had 
that unerring rule, which in all things adjufted 
their tafte. We fee it even in their ilighteft 
vafes. In their works, proportion, tho varied 


( 33 ) 

through a thoufand lines, is ftill the fames 
and if we could only difcover their principles 
of proportion, we mould have the arcanum of 
this fcience ; and might fettle all our difputes 
about tafte with great eafe* 

Thus, in our inquiries into Jirfi principles^ 
we go on, without end, and without fatis- 
faclion. The human underftanding is unequal 
to the fearch. In philofophy we inquire for 
them in vain — in phyfics — in metaphyfics — in 
morals. Even in the polite arts, where the 
fubject, one mould imagine, is lefs recondite, 
the inquiry, we find, is equally vague. We 
are puzzled* and bewildered ; but not informed. 
All is uncertainty -, a ffcrife of words ; the old 

Empedocles, an Stertinii deliret acumen ? 

In a word, if a caufe be fufficiently underftood> 
it may fuggeft ufeful difcoveries* But if it 
be not fo (and where is our certainty in thefe 
difquifitions) it will unqueflionably mijlead* 



( 34 ) 

S the fubject of the foregoing efTay is 
rather new, and I doubted, whether 
fufficiently founded in truth, I was defirous, 
before I printed it, that it mould receive the 
imprimatur of fir Jofhua Reynolds. I begged 
him therefore to look it over, and received the 
following anfwer. 

April 19th, 1 79I. 

Dear Sir, 

Tho I read now but little, yet 
I have read with great attention the efTay, 
which you was fo good to put into my hands, 
on the difference between the beautiful, and the 
pifturefque -, and I may truly fay, I have re- 
ceived from it much pleafure, and improve- 

Without oppofing any of your fentiments, 
.it has fuggefted an idea, that may be worth 
confideration — whether the epithet piBurefque 
is not applicable to the excellences of the 
inferior fchools, rather than to the higher. 


( 35 ) 

The works of Michael Angelo, Raphael, &c. 
appear to me to have nothing of it - y whereas 
Reubens, and the Venetian painters may 
almoft be faid to have nothing elfe. 

Perhaps piclurefqiie is fomewhat fynonymous 
to the word tajle ; which we mould think im- 
properly applied to Homer, or Milton, but 
very well to Pope, or Prior. I fufpecl: that the 
application of thefe words are to excellences of 
an inferior order ; and which are incompatible 
with the grand ftile. 

You are certainly right in faying, that va- 
riety of tints and forms is picturefque ; but it 
muft be remembred, on the other hand, that 
the reverfe of this — (uniformity of colour, and 
a long continuation of lines,) produces gran- 

I had an intention of pointing out the 
paffages, that particularly {truck me ; but I 
was afraid to ufe my eyes fo much. 

The effay has lain upon my table ; and I 
think no day has parTed without my looking at 
it, reading a little at a time. Whatever ob- 
jections prefented themfelves at firft view,* 


* Sir Jofhua Reynolds had feen this eflay, feveral years ago, 
through Mr. Mafon, who mewed it to him. He then made 

D a fome 

( 36 ) 

were done away on a clofer infpection : and I 
am not quite fure, but that is the cafe in regard 
to the obfervation, which I have ventured to 
make on the word pi&urefque. 
I am, &c. 


To the rev d . Mr. Gilpin, 


May 2d, 1 791. 

Dear Sir, 

I am much obliged to you for 
looking over my eifay at a time, when the 
complaint in your eyes muft have made an 
intrufion of this kind troublefome. But as the 
iubject was rather novel, 1 wifhed much for 
your fanction ; and you have given it me in as 
flattering a manner, as I could wifh. 

With regard to the term pic~lurefque y I 

have always myfelf ufed it merely to denote 

fucb objeBs, as are proper JubjecJs for painting : 

fome objections to it : particularly he thought, that the term 
pifturefque, fhould be applied only to the works of nature. His 
conceflion here is an inflance of that candour, which is a very 
remarkable part of his character ; and which is generally one of 
the diltinguifhing marks of true genius. 


( 37 ) 

fo that, according to ?ny definition, one of the 
cartoons, and a flower-piece are equally pic- 

I think however I underftand your idea of 
extending the term to what may be called 
tajie in painting — or the art of fafcinating the 
eye by fplendid colouring, and artificial com- 
binations; which the inferior fchools valued; 
and the dignity of the higher perhaps defpifed. 
But I have feen fo little of the higher fchools, 
that I mould be very ill able to carry the fub- 
ject farther by illuflrating a difquifition of this 
kind. Except the cartoons, I never faw a 
picture of Raphael's, that anfwered my idea; 
and of the original works of Michael Angelo 
I have little conception. 

But tho I am unable, through ignorance, 
to appreciate fully the grandeur of the Roman 
fchool, I have at leaft the pleafure to find 
I have always held as a principle your idea 
of the production of greatnefs by uniformity 
of colour, and a long continuatio?i of line : and 
when I fpeak of variety, I certainly do not 
mean to confound it's effects with thofe of 

I am, &c. 


To fir Jofhua Reynolds, 

d 3 




( 4i ) 


J J 

NOUGH has been faid to fliew the 
j difficulty of ajjigning caufes : let us then 
take another courfe, and amufe ourfelves with 
fearching after effeBs. This is the general 
intention of picturefque travel. We mean not 
to bring it into competition with any of the 
more ufeful ends of travelling: but as many 
travel without any end at all, amuiing them- 
felves without being able to give a reafon why 
they are amufed, we offer an end, which may 
poffibly engage fome vacant minds ; and may 
indeed afford a rational amufement to fuch as 
travel for more important purpofes. 

In treating of picturefque travel, we may 
confider firft it's objeft j and fecondly it's fources 
of amufement* 


( 42 ) 

It's object is beauty of every kind, which 
cither art, or nature can produce : but it is 
chiefly that fpecies of picturefque beauty, which 
we have endeavoured to characterize in the 
preceding effay. This great object we purfue 
through the fcenery of nature ; and examine 
it by the rules of painting. We feek it among 
all the ingredients of landfcape — trees — rocks 

— broken-grounds woods rivers lakes — 

plains vallies mountains and diftances. 

Thefe objects in them/elves produce infinite 
variety. No two rocks, or trees are exactly 
the fame. They are varied, a fecond time, 
by combination ; and almoffc as much, a third 
time, by different lights, and jlmdes, and other 
aerial effects . Sometimes we find among them 
the exhibition of a whole -, but oftener we find 
only beautiful parts.* 

That we may examine picturefque objects 
with more eafe, it may be ufeful to clafs 
them into the fublime, and the beautiful ; tho, 
in fact, this diflinction is rather inaccurate. 

* As fome of thefe topics have been occafionally men- 
tioned in other pi&urefque works, which the author has given 
the public, they are here touched very flightly : only the fub- 
je& required they mould be brought together. 


( 43 ) 

Sublimity alone cannot make an object pic- 
turefque. However grand the mountain, or 
the rock may be, it has no claim to this 
epithet, unlefs it's form, it's colour, or it's 
accompaniments have fo??ie degree of beauty. 
Nothing can be more fublime, than the ocean : 
but wholly unaccompanied, it has little of the 
picture! que. When we talk therefore of a 
fublime object, we always under (land, that 
it is alfo beautiful : and we call it fublime, 
or beautiful, only as the ideas of fublimity, or 
of fimple beauty prevail. 

The curious, and fantajiic forms of nature 
are by no means the favourite objects of the 
lovers of landfcape. There may be beauty 
in a curious object ; and fo far it may be 
picturefque : but we cannot admire it merely 
for the fake of it's curiofity. The lufus nature 
is the naturalilVs province, not the painter's. 
The fpiry pinnacles of the mountain, and the 
cattle-like arrangement of the rock, give no 
peculiar pleafure to the picturefque eye. It 
is fond of the fimplicity of nature ; and fees 
mo ft beauty in her mofk ufual forms. The 
Giant's caufeway in Ireland may ftrike it as 
a novelty; but the lake of Killarney attracts 
it's attention. It would range with fupreme 


( 44 ) 

delight among the fweet vales of Switzerland ; 
but would view only with a tranfient glance, 
the Glaciers of Savoy. Scenes of this kind, 
as unufual, may pleafe once; but the great 
works of nature, in her fimplefr, and pureft 
ftile, open inexhaufted fprings of amufement. 

But it is not only the form, and the com- 
fojition of the objects of landfcape, which the 
picturefque eye examines ; it connects them 
with the atmofphere, and feeks for all thofe 
various effects, which are produced from that 
vaft, and wonderful ftorehoufe of nature. Nor 
is there in travelling a greater pleafure, than 
when a fcene of grandeur burfts unexpectedly 
upon the eye, accompanied with fome acci- 
dental circumftance of the atmofphere, which 
harmonizes with it, and gives it double value. 

Befides the inanimate face of nature, it's 
living forms fall under the picturefque eye, 
in the courfe of travel ; and are often objects 
of great attention. The anatomical ftudy of 
figures is not attended to : we regard them 
merely as the ornament of fcenes. In the 
human figure we contemplate neither exaSlnefs 
of form; nor exprejfion, any farther than it is 
fhewn in action ; we merely confider general 
fhapes, drefles, groups, and occupations ; which 


( 45 ) 

we often find cafually in greater variety, and 
beauty, than any felection can procure. 

In the fame manner animals are the objects 
of our attention, whether we find them in the 
park, the foreft, or the field. Here too we 
confider little more, than their general forms, 
actions, and combinations. Nor is the pic- 
turefque eye fo faftidious as to defpife even 
lefs coniiderable objects. A flight of birds has 
often a pleafing effect. In fhort, every form 
of life, and being has it's ufe as a picturefque 
object, till it become too fmall for attention. 

But the picturefque eye is not merely ref- 
tricted to nature. It ranges through the limits 
of art. The picture, the ftatue, and the gar- 
den are all the objects of it's attention. In 
the embellifhed pleafure- ground particularly, 
tho all is neat, and elegant — far too neat and 
elegant for the ufe of the pencil - y yet, if it be 
well laid out, it exhibits the lines, and principles 
of landfcape ; and is well worth the fludy of 
the picturefque traveller. Nothing is wanting, 
but what his imagination can fupply — a change 
from fmooth to rough.* 

* See page 8. 


( 46 ) 

But among all the objects of art, the pictu- 
refque eye is perhaps molt inquifitive after the 
elegant relics of ancient architecture; the ruined 
tower, the Gothic arch, the remains of caftles, 
and abbeys. Thefe are the richefl: legacies of 
art. They are confecrated by time ; and al- 
moft deferve the veneration we pay to the 
works of nature itfelf. 

Thus univerfal are the objects of picturefque 
travel. We purfue beauty in every fhape ; 
through nature, through art ; and all it's 
various arrangements in form, and colour; 
admiring it in the grander! objects, and not 
rejecting it in the humblefl. 

From the objeBs of picturefque travel, we 
confider it's fonrces of amufement — or in what 
way the mind is gratified by thefe objects. 

We might begin in moral frile; and confider 
the objects of nature in a higher light, than 
merely as amufement. We might obferve, 
that a fearch after beauty mould naturally lead 
the mind to the great origin of all beauty; 
to the 

firft good, firil perfeft, and firfl: fair. 


( 47 ) 

But tho in theory this feems a natural climax, 
we infift the lefs upon it, as in fact we have 
fcarce ground to hope, that every admirer of 
pifturefque beauty, is an admirer alfo of the 
beauty of virtue ; and that every lover of nature 
reflects, that 

Nature is but a name for an effeEt, 
Whofe caufe is God. - ■ ■ 

If however the admirer of nature can turn 
his amufements to a higher purpofe ; if it's 
great fcenes can infpire him with religious 
awe ; or it's tranquil fcenes with that compla- 
cency of mind, which is fo nearly allied to 
benevolence, it is certainly the better. Appo~ 
nat lucro. It is fo much into the bargain : 
for we dare not promife him more from pictu- 
refque travel, than a rational, and agreeable 
amufement. Yet even this may be of fome 
ufe in an age teeming with licentious pleafure ; 
and may in this light at leafl be confidered as 
having a moral tendency. 

The firft fource of amufement to the pictu- 
refque traveller, is the purfuit of his object^ 
the expectation of new fcenes continually open- 
ing, and ariiing to his view. We fuppofe the 
country to have been unexplored. Under this 
circumftance the mind is kept conltantly in an 


( 48 ) 

agreeable fufpence. The love of novelty is the 
foundation of this pleafure. Every diftant ho- 
rizon promifes fomething new -, and with this 
pleafing expectation we follow nature through 
all her walks. We purfu; her from hill to 
dale -, and hunt after thofe various beauties* 
with which me every where abounds. 

The pleafure s of the chafe are univerfal. A 
hare ftarted before dogs is enough to fet a 
whole country in an uproar. The plough,- 
and the fpade are deferted. Care is left be- 
hind ; and every human faculty is dilated with 

And mall we fuppofe it a greater pleafure 
to the fportfman to purfue a trivial animal, 
than it is to the man of tafte to purfue the 
beauties of nature ? to follow her through all 
her recerTes ? to obtain a fudden glance, as 
fhe flits paft him in fome airy fhape ? to trace 
her through the mazes of the cover ? to wind 
after her along the vale ? or along the reaches 
of the river ? 

After the purfuit we are gratified with the 
attainment of the object. Our amufement, on 
this head, arifes from the employment of the 
mind in examining the beautiful fcenes we 
have found. Sometimes we examine them 
under the idea of a whole ; we admire the com- 

( 49 ) 

pofition, the colouring, and the light, in one 
comprehenjive view. When we are fortunate 
enough to fall in with fcenes of this kind, 
we are highly delighted. But as we have 
lefs frequent opportunities of being thus 
gratified, we are more commonly employed 
in analyzing the parts of fcenes ; which 
may be exquilitely beautiful, tho unable to 
produce a whole. We examine what would 
amend the compoiition ; how little is wanting 
to reduce it to the rules of our art -, what a 
trifling circumftance fometimes forms the limit 
between beauty, and deformity. Or we com- 
pare the objects before us with other objects 
of the fame kind : — or perhaps we compare 
them with the imitations of art. From all 
thefe operations of the mind refults great 

But it is not from this fcientifical employ- 
ment, that we derive our chief pleafure. We 
are molt delighted, when fome grand fcene, 
tho perhaps of incorrect compoiition, riling 
before the eye, ftrikes us beyond the power 
of thought — when the vox faucibus hteret ; and 
every mental operation is fufpended. In this 
paufe of intellect ; this deliquium of the foul, 
an enthufiaftic fenfation of pleafure overfpreads 

E it, 

( 5° 5 

it* previous to any examination by the rules 
cfart. The general idea of the fcene makes 
an imprerTion, before any appeal is made to the 
judgment. We rather/^/, thany?/ri;^y it. 

This high delight is generally indeed pro- 
duced by the fcenes of nature ; yet fometimes 
by artificial objects. Here and there a capital 
picture will raife thefe emotions : but oftener 
the rough fketch of a capital mailer. This 
has fometimes an aftonifhing effect on the 
mind -, giving the imagination an opening into 
all thofe glowing ideas, which infpired the 
artifl ; and which the imagination only can 
tranflate. In general however the works of 
art affect: us coolly j and allow the eye to cri- 
ticize at leifure. 

Having gained by a minute examination of 
incidents a compleat idea of an object, our 
next amufement arifes from inlarging, and 
correcting our general flock of ideas. The 
variety of nature is fuch, that new objefts, and 
new combinations of them, are continually 
adding fomething to our fund, and inlarging 
our collection : while the fame kind of objett 
occurring frequently, is feen under various 
fliapes ; and makes us, if I may fo fpeak, more 
learned in nature. We get it more by heart. 


( 5' ) 

He who has feen only one oak-tree, has no 
compleat idea of an oak in general : but he 
who has examined thoufands of oak-trees, muft 
have feen that beautiful plant in all it's va- 
rieties j and obtains a full, and compleat idea 
of it. 

From this correct knowledge of obje&s arifes 
another amufement ; that of reprefenting, by a 
few flrokes in a fketch, thofe ideas, which 
have made the moft impreflion upon us. A 
few fcratches, like a fhort-hand fcrawl of our 
own, legible at lean: to ourfelves, will ferve 
to raife in our minds the remembrance of the 
beauties they humbly reprefent ; and recal to 
our memory even the fplendid colouring, and 
force of light, which exifted in the real fcene. 
Some naturalifls fuppofe, the act of rumina- 
ting, in animals, to be attended with more 
pleafure, than the act of grolfer maftication. 
It may be fo in travelling alfo. There may 
be more pleafure in recollecting, and record- 
ing, from a few tranfient lines, the fcenes we 
have admired, than in the prefent enjoyment 
of them. If the fcenes indeed have peculiar 
greatnejs, this fecondary pleafure cannot be at- 
tended with thofe enthufiaftic feelings, which 
accompanied the real exhibition. But, in 
E z general, 

( 5* ) 

general, tho it may be a calmer fpecies of plea- 
fure, it is more uniform, and uninterrupted. 
It flatters us too with the idea of a fort of 
creation of our own ; and it is unallayed with 
that fatigue, which is often a confiderable 
abatement to the pleafures of traverfing the 

wild, and favage parts of nature. After 

we have amufed ourfehes with our fketches, 
if we can, in any degree, contribute to the 
amufement of others alfo, the pleafure is furely 
fo much inhanced. 

There is ftill another amufement arifing 
from the correct knowledge of objects -, and 
that is the power of creating, and reprefenting 
fcenes of fancy ; which is ftill more a work 
of creation, than copying from nature. The 
imagination becomes a camera obfcura, only 
with this difference, that the camera reprefents 
objects as they really are ; while the imagi- 
nation, impreffed with the mofr. beautiful 
fcenes, and chaftened by rules of art, forms 
it's pictures, not only from the molt admirable 
parts of nature ; but in the beft tafte. 

Some artifts, when they give their imagi- 
nation play, let it loofe among uncommon 
fcenes — fuch as perhaps never exifted : whereas 
the nearer they approach the fimple ftandard 


( S3 ) 

of nature, in it's moft beautiful forms, the 
more admirable their fictions will appear. It 
is thus in writing romances. The correct 
tafte cannot bear thofe unnatural fituations, 
in which heroes, and heroines are often placed : 
whereas a ftory, naturally, and of courfe af- 
feftingly told, either with a pen, or a pencil, 
tho known to be a fiction, is confidered as 
a tranfeript from nature ; and takes poflemon 
of the heart. The marvellous difgufts the fober 
imagination; which is gratified only with the 
pure characters of nature. 

■Beauty belt is taught 

By thofe, the favoured few, whom heaven has lent 
The power to feize, feleft, and reunite 
Her lovelieft features ; and of thefe to form 
One archetype compleat, of fovereign grace. 
Here nature fees her faireft forms more fair ; 
Owns them as hers, yet owns herfelf excelled 
By what herfelf produced. - 

But if we are unable to embody our ideas 
even in a humble fketch, yet ftill a ftrong 
imprejjion of nature will enable us to judge 
of the works of art. Nature is the archetype. 
The ftronger therefore the imprefiion, the 
better the judgment. 

E 3 We 

( 54 ) 

We are, in fome degree, alfo amufed by 
the very virions of fancy itfelf. Often, when 
flumber has half-clofed the eye, and fhut out 
all the objects of fenfe, efpecially after the 
enjoyment of fome fplendid fcene -, the ima- 
gination, active, and alert, collects it's fcat- 
tered ideas, tranfpofes, combines, and fhifts 
them into a thoufand forms, producing fuch 
exquifite fcenes, fuch fublime arrangements, 
fuch glow, and harmony of colouring, fuch 
brilliant lights, fuch depth, and clearnefs of 
fhadow, as equally foil defcription, and every 
attempt of artificial colouring. 

It may perhaps be objected to the pleafure- 
able circumftances, which are thus faid to 
attend picturefque travel, that we meet as 
many difgufting, as pleafing objects ; and the 
man of tafte therefore will be as often offended, 
as amufed. 

But this is not the cafe. There are few 
parts of nature, which do not yield a picturefque 
eye fome amufement. 

■Believe the mufe, 

She does not know that unaufpicious fpot, 
Where beauty is thus niggard of her itore. 


( ss ) 

Believe the mufe, through this terreftrial wafte 
The feeds of grace are fown, profufely fown, 
Even where we leafl may hope. 

It is true, when fome large trad of barren 
country interrupts our expectation, wound up 
in quefl of any particular fcene of grandeur, 
or beauty, we are apt to be a little peevifhj 
and to exprefs our difcontent in hafty ex- 
aggerated phrafe. But when there is no 
difappointment in the cafe, even fcenes the 
moft barren of beauty, will furnifh amufe- 

Perhaps no part of England comes more 
under this defcription, than that tract of bar- 
ren country, through which the great military 
road paffes from Newcaille to Carlifle. It is 
a wafle, with little interruption, through a 
fpace of forty miles. But even here, we 
have always fome thing to amufe the eye. 
The interchangeable patches of heath, and 
green-fward make an agreeable variety. Often 
too on thefe vaft tracts of interfec~ting grounds 
we fee beautiful lights, foftening off along 
the fides of hills : and often we fee them 
adorned with cattle, flocks of meep, heath- 
cocks, grous, plover, and flights of other 
wild-fowl. A group of cattle, Handing in 

E 4 the 

( 56 ) 

the made on the edge of a dark hill, and 
relieved by a lighter diftance beyond them, 
will often make a compleat picture without 
any other accompaniment. In many other 
fituations alfo we find them wonderfully 
pleating; and capable of making pictures 
amidft all the deficiences of landfcape. Even 
a winding road itfelf is an object of beauty ; 
while the richnefs of the heath on each fide, 
with the little hillocs, and crumbling earth 
give many an excellent leffon for a fore- 
ground. When we have no opportunity of 
examining the grand fcenery of nature, we 
have every where at leaft the means of ob- 
ferving with what a multiplicity of parts, and 
yet with what general fimplicity, fhe covers 
every furface. 

But if we let the imagination loofe, even 
fcenes like thefe, adminifter great amufement. 
The imagination can plant hills; can form 
rivers, and lakes in vallies ; can build caftles, 
and abbeys ; and if it find no other amufe- 
ment, can dilate itfelf in vafl ideas of fpace. 

But altho the picturefque traveller is feldom 
difappointed with pure nature, however rude, 


( 57 ) 

yet we cannot deny, but he is often offended 
with the productions of art. He is difgufted 
with the formal feparations of property — with 
houfes, and towns, the haunts of men, which 
have much oftener a bad effect in landfcape, 
than a good one. He is frequently difgufted 
alfo, when art aims more at beauty, than fTie 
ought. How flat, and infipid is often the 
garden-fcene ! how puerile, and abfurd ! the 
banks of the river how fmooth, and par- 
rallel ! the lawn, and it's boundaries, how 
unlike nature ! Even in the capital collec- 
tion of pictures, how feldom does he find 
dejtgn, compofition, expreffion, character, or har- 
mony either in light, or colouring ! and how 
often does he drag through faloons, and rooms 
of ftate, only to hear a catalogue of the names 
of mafters ! 

The more refined our tafte grows from 
the Jludy of nature, the more infipid are the 
works of art. Few of it's efforts pleafe. The 
idea of the great original is fo ftrong, that 
the copy muft be very pure, if it do not dif- 
guft. But the varieties of nature's charts are 
fuch, that, ftudy them as we can, new va- 
rieties will always arife : and let our tafte be 
ever fo refined, her works, on which it is 


( 58 ) 

formed (at leaft when we connder them as 
objefis,) muft always go beyond it; and fur- 
nifh frefh fources both of pleafure and amufe- 





( 6r ) 


"^HE art of Jketching is to the picture fque 
traveller, what the art of writing is to 
the fcholar. Each is equally neceflary to fix, 
and communicate it's relpective ideas. 

Sketches are either taken from the imagi- 
nation, or from nature, When the imaginary 

fketch proceeds from the hands of a matter, 
it is very valuable. It is his firft conception ; 
which is commonly the flrongeft, and the moil 
brilliant. The imagination of a painter, really 
great in his profefilon, is a magazine abound- 
ing with all the elegant forms, and finking 
effedts, which are to be found in nature. 
Thefe, like a magician, he calls up at pleafure 
with a wave of his hand ; bringing before the 
eye, fometimes a fcene from hiftory, or ro- 
mance ; 

( 62 ) 

mance ; and fometimes from the inanimate 
parts of nature. And in thefe happy moments, 
when the enthufiafm of his art is upon him, 
he often produces from the glow of his imagi- 
nation, with a few bold ftrokes, fuch wonder- 
ful efTufions of genius, as the more fober, 
and correct productions of his pencil cannot 

It will always however be underftood, that 
fuch Sketches mull be examined alfo by an eye 
learned in the art, and accuftomed to pictu- 
refque ideas — an eye, that can take up the 
half- formed images, as the matter leaves them ; 
give them a new creation ; and make up all 
that is not expreffed from it's own flore-houfe. 
— I mall however dwell no longer on ima- 
ginary Jketcbing, as it hath but little relation 
to my prefent fubjecl:. Let me only add, that 
altho this elfay is meant chiefly to afiift the 
picturefque traveller in taking views from nature, 
the method recommended, as far as it relates 
to execution, may equally be applied to imaginary 

Your intention in taking views from nature, 
may either be to fx them in your own memory 

( 63 ) 

. — —or to convey, in feme degree, your ideas to 

With regard to the former, when you meet 
a fcene you wifh to fketch, your firft confi- 
deration is to get it in the beft point of view. 
A few paces to the right, or left, make a 
great difference. The ground, which folds 
awkwardly here, appears to fold more eafily 
there : and that long blank curtain of the 
cattle, which is fo unpleafing a circumflance, 
as you fland on one fide, is agreeably broken 
by a buttrefs on another. 

Having thus fixed your point of view, 
your next confideration, is, how to reduce it 
properly within the compafs of your paper: 
for the fcale of nature being fo very different 
from your fcale, it is a matter of difficulty, 
without fome experience, to make them coin- 
cide. If the landfcape before you is extenfive, 
take care you do not include too much : it 
may perhaps be divided more commodioufly 

into two fketches. When you have fixed 

the portion of it, you mean to take, fix next 
on two or three principal points, which you 
may juft mark on your paper. This will en- 
able you the more eafily to afcertain the re- 
lative fituation of the feveral objects. 


( H ) 

In fketching, black-lead is the firfl inftru- 
ment commonly ufed. Nothing glides fo 
volubly over paper, and executes an idea fo 
quickly. — It has befides, another advantage ; 
it's grey tint correfponds better with a warn, 
than black, or red chalk, or any other paftile. 
— It admits alfo of eafy correction. 

The virtue of thefe hafty, black-lead 
Sketches confifts in catching readily the cha- 
raBerijiic features of a fcene. Light and 
fhade are not attended to. It is enough if 
you exprefs general f japes ; and the relations, 
which the feveral interferons of a country 
bear to each other. A few lines drawn on 
the fpot, will do this. " Half a word, fays 
Mr. Gray, fixed on, or near the fpot, is worth 
all our recollected ideas. When we truft to 
the picture, that objects draw of themfelves 
on the mind, we deceive ourfelves. Without 
accurate, and particular obfervation, it is but 
ill-drawn at firft : the outlines are foon blur- 
red : the colours, every day grow fainter ; and 
at laft, when we would produce it to any 
body, we are obliged to fupply it's defects 


( 6 S ) 

with a few ftrokes of our own imagination."*— 
What Mr. Gray fays, relates chiefly to verbal 
defcription : but in lineal defcription it is 
equally true. The leading ideas muft be 
fixed on the fpot : if left to the memory, 
they foon evaporate. 

The lines of black-lead, and indeed of any 
one inftrument, are fubject. to the great incon- 
venience of confounding diftances. If there are 
two, or three diftances in the landfcape, as 
each of them is expreffed by the fame kind of 
line, the eye forgets the, even in 
half a day's travelling; and all is confufion. 
To remedy this, a few written references, 
made on the fpot, are neceffary, if the land- 
fcape be at all complicated. The traveller 
mould be accurate in this point, as the fpirit 
of his view depends much on the proper ob- 

fervance of diftances. At his firft leifure 

however he will review his iketch ; add a 
few ftrokes with a pen, to mark the near 
grounds ; and by a flight wafh of Indian ink, 
throw in a few general lights, and fhades, to 
keep all fixed, and in it's place. A fketch 

* Letter to Mr. Palgrave, p. 272, 4-to. 

F need 

( 66 ) 

need not be carried farther, when it is in- 
tended merely to affijl our own memory. 

But when a fketch is intended to convey, 
m fome degree, our ideas to others, it is necef- 
fary, that it mould be fomewhat more adorned. 
To us the fcene, familiar to our recollection, 
may be fuggefted by a few rough ftrokes : 
but if you wifh to raife the idea, where none 
exijled before, and to do it agreeably, there mould 
be fome compofition in your fketch — a degree 
of correSinejs , and exprejjion in the out-line — 
and fome effect of light. A little ornament 
alfo from figures, and other circumftances 
may be introduced. In fhort, it mould be 
fo far dreffed, as to give fome idea of a 
picture. I call this an adorned Jketch -, and 
fhould fketch nothing, that was not capable 
of being thus dreffed. An unpicturefque af- 
femblage of objects ; and, in general, all 
untraceable fubjects, if it be neceffary to re- 
prefent them, may be given as plans, rather 
than as pictures. 

In the firfl place, I fhould advife the tra- 
veller by no means to work his adorned Jketch 


( 6 7 ) 

upon his original one. His firft fketch is the 
ftandard, to which, in the abfence of nature, 
he muft at leaft recur for his general ideas. 
By going over it again, the original ideas 
may be loft, and the whole thrown into con- 
fufion. Great mafters therefore always fet 
a high value on their fketches from nature. 
On the fame principle the picturefque tra- 
veller preferves his original fketch, tho in itfelf 
of little value, to keep him within proper 

This matter being fettled, and the adorned 
Jketch begun anew, the firft point is to fix 
the compojition. 

But the co?npofition> you fay, is already fixed 
by the original Jketch. 

It is true : but ftill it may admit many 
little alterations, by which the forms of 
objects may be aflifted; and yet the refem- 
blance not disfigured : as the fame piece of 
mufic, performed by different mafters, and 
graced varioufly by each, may yet con- 
tinue ftill the fame. We muft ever recoi- 
led: that nature is moft defective in com- 
position ; and mnjl be a little aflifted. Her 
ideas are too vaft for picturefque ufe, without 
the reftraint of rules. Liberties however with 

F 2 truth 

( 68 ) 

truth muil: be taken with caution : tho at the 
fame time a diftinction may be made between 
an objec7 t and a fcene. If I give the finking 
features of the cajile, or abbey, which is my 
objecJ, I may be allowed fome little liberty in 
bringing appendages (which are not effential 
features) within the rules of my art. But in 
a fcene, the whole view becomes the portrait ; 
and if I flatter here, I muft flatter with de- 

But whether I reprefent an objeB, or a fcene y 
I hold myfelf at perfect liberty, in the nrfl 
place, to difpofe the foreground as I pleafe ; 
reftrained only by the analogy of the country. 
I take up a tree here, and plant it there. I 
pare a knoll, or make an addition to it. I 
remove a piece of paling — a cottage — a wall — 
or any removeable object, which I diflike. 
In fhort, I do not fo much mean to exact 
a liberty of introducing what does not exift ; 
as of making a few of thofe fimple variations, 
of which all ground is eafily fufceptible, and 
which time itfelf indeed is continually making. 
All this my art exacts : 

She rules the foreground; lhe can fwell, or fink 

It's furface ; here her leafy fkreen oppofe, 

And there withdraw ; here part the varying greens, 


( 69 ) 

And croud them there in one promifcuous gloom 3 
As bell befits the genius of the fcene. 

The foreground indeed is a mere fpot, compa- 
red with the extenfion of the diflance : in itfelf 
it is of trivial confequence ; and cannot well be 
called a feature of the fcene. And yet, tho 
fo little effential in giving a likenefs, it is more 
fo than any other part in forming a compo- 
Jition. It refembles thofe deep tones in mulic, 
which give a value to all the lighter parts -, 
and harmonize the whole. 

As the foreground therefore is of fo much 
confequence, begin your adorned fketch with 
fixing this' very material part. It is eafier 
to afcertain the lituation of your foreground, 
as it lies fo near the bottom of your paper, 
than any other part ; and this will tend to 
regulate every thing elfe. In your rough 
fketch it has probably been inaccurately 
thrown in. You could not fo eafily afcer- 
tain it, till you had gotten all your landfcape 
together. You might have carried it too 
high on your paper; or have brought it too 
low. As you have now the general fcheme 
of your landfcape before you, you may adjufl: 
it properly -, and give it it's due proportion. 

1 mall add only, on the fubjecl: of fore- 

F 3 grounds, 

( 7° ) 

grounds, that you need not be very nice in 
finishing them, even when you mean to adorn 
your fketches. In a finifhed picture the fore- 
ground is a matter of great nicety : but in 
a fketch little more is neceffary, than to 
produce the effect you defire. 

Having fixed your foreground, you confider 
in the fame way, tho with more caution, the 
other parts of your compofition. In a hajiy 
tranfcript from nature, it is fufricient to take 
the lines of the country jurt as you find them: 
but in your adorned fketch you muft grace 
them a little, where they run falfe. You 
muff contrive to hide offenfive parts with 
wood; to cover fuch as are too bald, with 
bulhes ; and to remove little objects, which 
in nature pufh themfelves too much in fight, 
and ferve only to introduce too many parts 
into your compofition. In this happy adjuft.- 
ment the grand merit of your fketch confifts. 
No beauty of light, colouring, or execution 
can atone for the want of compoftion. It is 
the foundation of all picturefque beauty. No 
finery of drefs can fet off a perfon, whole 
figure is awkward, and uncouth. 

Having thus digejied the compofition of your 
adorned fketch > which is done with black-lead, 


( 7i ) 

you proceed to give a stronger outline to the 
foreground, and nearer parts. Some indeed 
ufe no outline, but what they freely work 
with a brufh on their black-lead Iketch. 
This comes neareft the idea of painting ; and 
as it is the moll free, it is perhaps alfo the 
moll excellent method : but as a black-lead 
outline is but a feeble termination, it re- 
quires a greater force in the wafh to produce 
an effect ; and of courfe more the hand of 
a mailer. The hand of a mailer indeed pro- 
duces an effect with the rudefl materials : but 
thefe precepts aim only at giving a few in- 
ilructions to the tyroes of the art ; and fuch 
will perhaps make their out-line the moft 
effectually with a pen. As the pen is more 
determined than black-lead, it leaves lefs to 
the brum, which I think the more difficult 
inftrument.— — Indian ink, (which may be 
heightened, or lowered to any degree of 
ilrength, or weaknefs, fo as to touch both 
the nearer, and more diftant grounds,) is the 
bell ink you can ufe. You may give a llroke 
with it fo light as to confine even a remote 
diilance ; tho fuch a diilance is perhaps bell 
left in black-lead. 

F 4. But 

( 7* ) 

But when we fpeak of an out -line, we do 
not mean a fimple contour ; which, (however 
neceffary in a correct figure,) would in land- 
fcape be formal. It is enough to mark with 
a few free touches of the pen, here and there, 
fome of the breaks, and roughneffes, in which 
the richnefs of an object confifts. But you 
mull: firfl determine the fituation of your lights, 
that you may mark thefe touches on the 
fhadowy fide. 

Of thefe free touches with a pen the chief 
characteristic is exprejjion -, or the art of giving 
each object, that peculiar touch, whether 
fmooth, or rough, which beft exprefTes it's 
form. The art of painting, in it's higheft 
perfection, cannot give the richnefs of nature. 
When we examine any natural form, we 
find the ^multiplicity of it's parts beyond the 
higheft finifhing : and indeed generally an 
attempt at the higheft finifhing would end in 
ftirTnefs. The painter is obliged therefore to 
deceive the eye by fome natural tint, or 
exprefiive touch, from which the imagination 
takes it's cue. How often do we fee in the 
landfcapes of Claude the full effect of diftance -, 
which, when examined clofely, confifts of a 
fimple dafh, tinged with the hue of nature, 


( 73 ) 

intermixed with a few expreffive touches ?— * 
If then thefe expreffive touches are neceffary, 
where the matter carries on the deception 
both in form, and colour ; how neceffary 
muffc they be in mere fketches, in which 
colour, the great vehicle of deception, is 
removed ? — The art however of giving thofe 
expreffive marks with a pen, which imprefs 
ideas, is no common one. The inferior artift 
may give them by chance : but the mafter 

only gives them with precifion. Yet a 

fketch may have it's ufe, and even it's merit, 
without thefe ftrokes of genius. 

As the difficulty of ufing the pen is fuch, 
it may perhaps be objected, that it is an 
improper inftrument for a tyro. It lofes it's 
grace, if it have not a ready, and off-hand 

It is true : but what other inftrument fhall 
we put into his hands, that will do better ? 
His black-lead, his brufh, whatever he touches, 
will be unmaflerly. But my chief reafon for 
putting a pen into his hands, is, that without 
a pen it will be difficult for him to preferve 
his outline, and diftances. His touches with 
a pen may be unmaflerly, we allow : but 
ftill they will preferve keeping in his landfcape, 


( 74 ) 

without which the whole will be a blot of 

confufion. Nor is it perhaps fo difficult 

to obtain fome little freedom with a pen. I 
have feen affiduity, attended with but little 
genius, make a confide rable progrefs in the 
ufe of this inftrument ; and produce an effect 
by no means difplealing. — If the drawing be 
large, I mould recommend a reed-pen, which 
runs more freely over paper. 

When the out-line is thus drawn, it re- 
mains to add light, and made. In this ope- 
ration the effect of a wa/b is much better, 
than of lines hatched with a pen. A brufh 
will do more in one ftroke, and generally 
more effectually, than a pen can do in 
twenty.* For this purpofe, we need only 

* I have feldom feen any drawings etched with a pen, that 
pleafed me. The moll mafterly fketches in this way I ever 
faw, were taken in the early part of the life of a gentleman, 
now very high in his profeffion, Mr. Mitford of Lincoln's inn. 
They were taken in feveral parts of Italy, and England ; and 
tho they are mere memorandum-flcetches, the fubje&s are fo 
happily chofen — they are fo chara&eriftic of the countries they 
reprefent — and executed with fo free, and expreffive a touch, 
that I examined them with pleafure, not only as faithful por- 
traits, (which I believe they all are) but as matter-pieces, as 
far as they go, both in compofition, and execution. 


'■ x - 

( 75 ) 

Indian ink ; and perhaps a little biftre, or 
burnt umber. With the former we give that 
greyifh tinge, which belongs to the fky, 
and diftant objects ; and with the latter (mixed 
more, or lefs with Indian ink) thofe warm 
touches, which belong to the foreground. 
Indian ink however alone makes a good wafh 
both for the foreground, and diflance. 

But mere light and fiade are not fufficient : 
fomething of eJfeB alfo mould be aimed at 
in the adorned Jketch. Mere light and fhade 
propofe only the fimple illumination of objects. 
EffeB, by balancing large maffes of each, gives 

the whole a greater force. Now tho in 

the exhibitions of nature, we commonly find 
only the fimple illumination of objects ; yet 
as we often do meet with grand effeBs alfo, 
we have fufficient authority to ufe them : for 
under thefe circumftances we fee nature in 
her beft attire, in which it is our bufinefs to 
defcribe her. 

As to giving rules for the production of 
effect, the fubject admits only the mojl gene- 
ral. There mufh be a ftrong oppofition of 
light and made 3 in which the fky, as well 
as the landfcape, mufl combine. But in what 


( 76 ) 

way this oppofition muft. be varied — where 
the full tone of fhade muft prevail — where 
the full erTufion of light — or where the various 
degrees of each — depends intirely on the cir- 
cumftance of the compofition. All you can 
do, is to examine your drawing (yet in it's 
naked out-line) with care ; and endeavour 
to find out where the force of the light will 
have the beft effect. But this depends more 
on tajie, than on rule. 

One thing both in light and fhade mould 
be obferved, efpecially in the former — and 
that is gradation ; which gives a force beyond 
what a glaring difplay of light can give. The 
effect of light, which falls on the ftone, 
produced as an illuftration of this idea, would 
not be fo great, unlefs it graduated into fhade. 

In the following ftanza Mr. Gray has 

with great beauty, and propriety, illuftrated 
the viciffitudes of life by the principles of 
picturefque effect. 

Still where rofy pleafure leads, 

See a kindred grief purfue : 

Behind the fteps, which mifery treads, 

Approaching comfort view. 

The hues of blifs more brightly glow, 

Chaftifed by fabler tints of woe ; 

And, blended, form with artful ftrife, 

The ftrength, and harmony of life. 

I may 



i o 







( 77 ) 

I may farther add, that the production of 
an eff'eB is particularly neceffary in drawing. 
In painting, colour in fome degree makes up 
the deficency : but in fimple clair-obfcure 
there is no fuccedaneum. It's force depends 
on effect; the virtue of which is fuch, that 
it will give a value even to a barren fubject. 
Like ftriking the chords of a mufical inftru- 
ment, it will produce harmony, without any 
richnefs of compofition. 

It is farther to be obferved, that when 
objects are in Jhadow, the light, (as it is then 
a reflected one,) falls on the oppolite fide to 
that, on which it falls, when they are in- 

In adorning your Jketch, a figure, or two 
may be introduced with propriety. By figures 
I mean moving objects, as waggons, and 
boats, as well as cattle, and men. But they 
mould be introduced fparingly. In profufion 
they are affected. Their chief ufe is, to mark 
a road — to break a piece of foreground — to 
point out the horizon in a fea-view — or to 
carry off the diftance of retiring water by the 
contraft of a dark fail, not quite fo diftant, 
placed before it. But in figures thus deilgned 
for the ornament of a fketch, a few flight 


( 73 ) 

touches are fufficient. Attempts at finishing 

Among trees, little diftinction need be made, 
unlefs you introduce the pine, or the cyprefs, 
or fome other lingular form. The oak, the 
afh, and the elm, which bear a diftant refem- 
blance to each other, may all be characterized 
alike. In a fketch, it is enough to mark a 
tree. One diftin&ion indeed is often neceffary 
eveh in fketches ; and that is, between full- 
leaved trees, and thofe of ftraggling ramification. 
In compofition we have often occafion for both, 
and therefore the hand mould be ufed readily 
to execute either. If we have a general idea 
of the oak, for inftance, as a light tree -, and 
of the beech as a heavy one, it is fufficient. 

It adds, I think, to the beauty of a fketch 
to ftain the paper flightly with a reddifh, or 
yellowifh tinge -, the ufe of which is to give 
a more pleafing tint to the ground of the 
drawing by taking away the glare of the paper. 
It adds alfo, if it be not too flrong, a degree 
of harmony to the rawnefs of black, and white. 

* See the preceding eflay. 


( 79 ) 

This tinge may be laid on, either before, or 
after the drawing is made. In general, I 
mould prefer the latter method; becaufe, 
while the drawing is yet on white paper, you 
may correct it with a fponge, dipt in water ; 
which will, in a good degree, efface Indian 
ink. But if you rub out any part, after the 
drawing is llained, you cannot eafily lay the 
ftain again upon the rubbed part without the 
appearance of a patch. 

Some chufe rather to add a little colour to 
their fketches. My inftructions attempt not 
the art of mixing a variety of tints ; and 
finifhing a drawing from nature -, which is 
generally executed in colours from the begin- 
ning, without any ufe of Indian ink; except 
as a grey tint, uniting with other colours. 
This indeed, when chaftly executed, (which 
is not often the cafe) exceeds in beauty every 
other fpecies of drawing. It is however be- 
yond my fkill to give any inftruction for this 
mode of drawing. All I mean, is only to offer 
a modeft, way of tinting a fketch already finish- 
ed in Indian ink. By the addition of a little 
colour I mean only to give fome diftinction 


( 8o ) 

to objects -, and introduce rather a gayer ftile 
into a landfcape. 

When you have finifhed your fketch there- 
fore with Indian ink, as far as you propofe, 
tinge the whole over with fome light horizon 
hue. It may be the rofy tint of morning; 
or the more ruddy one of evening ; or it may 
incline more to a yellowifh, or a greyifh call. 
As a fpecimen an evening hue is given. The 
firft tint you fpread over your drawing, is 
compofed of light red, and oker, which make 
an orange. It may incline to one, or the 
other, as you chufe. In this example it in- 
clines rather to the former. By warning this 
tint over your whole drawing, you lay a foun- 
dation for harmony. When this wafh is nearly 
dry, repeat it in the horizon ; foftening it 

off into the fky, as you afcend. Take next 

a purple tint, compofed of lake, and blue, 
inclining rather to the former ; and with this, 
when your firft wafh is dry, form your clouds; 
and then fpread it, as you did the firft tint, 
over your whole drawing, except where you 
leave the horizon- tint. This ft ill ftrengthens 
the idea of harmony. Your Iky, and diftance 
are now finifhed. 


( 8i ) 

You proceed next to your middle, and fore-* 
grounds -, in both which you diftinguifh between 
the foil, and the vegetation. Warn the middle 
^grounds with a little umber. This will be 
fumcient for the foil. The foil of the fore- 
ground you may go over with a little light red. 
The vegetation of each may be warned with 
a green, compofed of blue, and oker ; adding 
a little more oker as you proceed nearer the 
eye ; and on the neareft grounds a little burnt 
terra Sienna. This is fumcient for the middle 
grounds. The foreground may farther want a 
little heightening both in the foil, and vegeta- 
tion. In the foil it may be given in the lights 
with burnt terra Sienna; mixing in the fhadows 
a little lake : and in the vegetation with gall- 
flone ; touched in places, and occaiionaliy 
varied, with a little burnt terra Sienna. 

Trees on the foreground are confidered as 
a part of it ; and their foliage may be co- 
loured like the vegetation in their neigh- 
bourhood. Their items may be touched 

with burnt terra Sienna. Trees, in middle 

distances are darker than the lawns, on which 
they ftand. They muft therefore be touched 
twice over with the tint, which is given only 
once to the lawn. 

G If 

( 8 2 ) 

If you reprefent clouds with bright edges, 
the edges muft be left in the firft orange ; 
while the tint over the other part of the 
horizon is repeated, as was mentioned before. 

A lowering, cloudy fky is reprefented by, 
what is called, a grey tint, compofed of lake, 
blue, and oker. As the fhadow deepens, the 
tint mould incline more to blue. 

The feveral tints mentioned in the above 
procefs, may perhaps the moft eafily be mixed 
before you begin ; efpecially if your drawing be 
large. Rub the raw colours in little faucers : 
keep them clean, and diftinct; and from them, 
mix your tints in other little veffels. 

I (hall only add, that the firength of the 
colouring you give your fketch, muft depend on 
the height, to which you have carried the 
Indian ink finijJAng. If it be only a flight 
fketch, it will bear only a light warn of 

This mode however of tinting a drawing, 
even when you tint it as high as thefe inftruc- 
tions reach, is by no means calculated to 
produce any great effect of colouring : but 
it is at leaft fufficient to preferve harmony. 
This you may preferve : an effect of colouring 
you cannot eafily attain. It is fomething how- 

( 8 3 ) 

ever to avoid a difagreeable excefs ; and there 
is nothing furely fo difagreeable to a correct 
eye as a tinted drawing (fuch as we often 
fee) in which greens, and blues, and reds, and 
yellows are daubed without any attention to 
harmony. It is to the pieturefque eye, what 
a difcord of harm notes is to a mulical ear. 

But the advocate for thefe glaring tints may 
perhaps fay, he does not make his fky more 
blue than nature ; nor his grafs, and trees 
more green. 

Perhaps fo : but unlefs he could work up 
his drawing with the finifhing of nature, he 
will find the effect very unequal. Nature 
mixes a variety of femitints with her brighten: 
colours : and tho the eye cannot readily fepa- 
rate them, they have a general chaftizing 
effect ; and keep the feveral tints of landfcape 
within proper bounds, which a glare of deep 
colours cannot do. Befides, this chaftizing 
hue is produced in nature by numberlefs little 
fhadows, beyond the attention of art, which 
flie throws on leaves, and piles of grafs, and 
every other minute object; all which, tho 
not eafily diftinguifhed in particulars, tells 
in the whole, and is continually chaftening 
the hues of nature. 

G 2 Before 

( 84 ) 

Before I conclude thefe remarks on fketch- 
ing, it may be ufeful to add a few words, 
and but a few, on perfpective. The nicer 
parts of it contain many difficulties ; and are 
of little ufe in common landfcape : but as 
a building, now and then, occurs, which 
requires fome little knowledge of perfpective, 
the fubject mould not be left wholly un- 

If a building fland exactly in front, none 
of it's lines can go off in perfpective : but if it 
ftand with a corner to the eye, as picturefque 
buildings commonly do, it's lines will appear to 
recede. In what manner they recede, the 
following mechanical method may explain. 

Hold horizontally between your eye, and 
the building you draw, a flat ruler, till you 
fee only the edge of it. Where it cuts the 
nearejl perpendicular of the building, which 
you have already juft traced on your paper, 
make a mark ; and draw a flight line through 
that part, parallel with the bottom of your 
paper. This is called the horizontal line, and 
regulates the whole perfpective. Obferve next 
the angle, which the uppermofr. of thefe reced- 

/. v?i/Jj7?ujt/i.y 

( 3 5 ) 

ing lines makes with the nearefi perpendicular 
of the building ; and continue that receding 
line till it meet the horizontal line. From 
the point, where it interfects, draw another 
line to the bottom of the nearejl perpendicular. 
This gives you the perfpective of the bafe. 
In the fame manner all the lines, which 
recede, on both fides, of the building ; as well 
above, as below the horizontal line — windows, 
doors, and projections of every kind, (on the 
fame plane) — are regulated. The points on 
the horizontal line, in which thefe receding lines 
unite, are called points oj fight. 

What is here called the point ofjigbt, is called by Brook Tay- 
lor ; and perhaps with more propriety, the vani thing point. 

After all, however, from the mode of 
Sketching here recommended (which is as 
fir as I mould wifh to recommend drawing 
landfcape to thofe, who draw only for amufe- 
ment) no great degree of accuracy can be 
expected. General ideas only muft be looked 
for; not the peculiarities of portrait. It 
admits the winding river — the fhooting pro- 
montory — the cattle — the abbey — the flat dis- 
tance — and the mountain melting into the 
horizon. It admits too the relation, which 
all thefe parts bear to each other. But it 
G 3 defcends 

( 36 ) 

defcends not to the minutiae of objects. The 
fringed bank of the river — the Gothic orna^ 
ments of the abbey — the chafms, and frac- 
tures of the rock, and caftle — and every little 
object along the vale, it pretends not to 
delineate with exactnefs. All this is the pro- 
vince of the finifhed drawing, and the pic- 
ture ; in which the artift conveys an idea 
of each minute feature of the country he 
delineates, or imagines. But high jinifhing, as 
I have before obferved, belongs only to a 
mafter, who can give exprejfive touches. The 
difciple, whom I am inftructing, and whom 
I inftruct only from my own experience, muft 
have humbler views ; and can hardly expect 
to pleafe, if he go farther than a fketch, adorned 
as hath been here defcribed. 

Many gentlemen, who draw for amule- 
ment, employ their leifure on human figures, 
animal life, portrait, perhaps hiftory. Here 
and there a man of genius makes fome pro- 
ficiency in thefe difficult branches of the art : 
but I have rarely feen any, who do. Dif- 
torted faces, and diilocated limbs, I have fcen 
in abundance : and no wonder ; for the fcience 
of anatomy, even as it regards painting, is 
with difficulty attained; and few who have 


( «7 ) 

ftudied it their whole lives, have acquired 

Others again, who draw for amufement, go 
fo far as to handle the pallet. But in this 
the fuccefs of the ill -judging artift feldom 
anfwers his hopes - y unlefs utterly void of tafte, 
he happen to be fuch an artift as may be ad- 
dreffed in the farcafm of the critic, 

Sine rivali teque, et tua folus amares. 

Painting is both a fcience, and an art; and 
if fo very few attain perfection, who fpend 
a life-time on it, what can be expected from 
thofe, who fpend only their leifure ? The 
very few gentlemen-artifts, who excel in paint- 
i?2g y fcarce afford encouragement for common 

But the art of Jketching landfcape is attainable 
by a man of bufinefs 3 and it is certainly more 
ufeful ; and, I fhould imagine, more amuiing, 
to attain fome degree of excellence in an in- 
ferior branch, than to be a mere bungler in 
a fuperior. Even if you fhould not excel in 
execution (which indeed you can hardly ex- 
pect) you may at leaft by bringing home the 
delineation of a fine country, dignify an in- 
G 4 different 

( 88 ) 

different fketch. You may pleafe yourfelf by 
adminiftring flrongly to recollection : and you 
may pleafe others by conveying your ideas 
more diftinctly in an ordinary fketch, than 
in the beft language. 






i Introduction, and addrefs. 

26 A clofe attention to the various fcenes of 
nature recommended ; and to the fe- 
veral circumftances, under which they 

78 A facility alfo in copying the different parts 
of nature mould be attained, before the 
young artift attempts a whole. 

90 This procefs will alfo be a kind of teft. No 
one can make any progrefs, whofe ima- 
gination is not fired with the fcenes of 
107 On a fuppofition, that the artift is enamoured 
with his fubjecl: ; and is well verfed in 
copying the parts of nature, he begins 


( ii ) 

to combine, and form thofe parts into 
the fubjects of landfcape. He pays his 
firft attention to dejign, or to the bringing 
. together of fuch objects, as are fuited 
to his fubjecl ; not mixing trivial objects 
with grand fcenes ; but preferving the 
characler of his fubject, whatever it may 

133 The different parts of his landfcape muft next 
be fludioufly arranged, and put together 
in a picturefque manner. This is the 
work of difpojition ; or, as it is fometimes 
called, compofition. No rules can be given 
for this arrangement, but the experience 
of a nice eye : for tho nature feldom 
prefcnts a compleat compofition, yet yvc 
every where fee in her works beautiful 
arrangements of parts ; which we ought 
to ftudy with great attention. 

149 In general, a landfcape is compofed of three 
parts — a foreground — a middle ground — 
and a diftance. 

153 Yet this is not a univerfal rule. A balance 
of parts however there mould always be ; 
tho fometimes thofe parts may be few. 

166 It is a great error in landfcape-painters, to 
lofe the fimplicity of a whole, under the 
idea of giving variety* 

172 Some 

f iii ) 

172 Some particular Jcene t therefore, or hading 
Jubjccf fhould always be chofen ; to which 
the parts fhould be fubfervient. 

195 In balancing a landfcape, a fpacious fore- 
ground will admit a fmall thread of dis- 
tance : but the reverfe is a bad propor- 
tion. In every landfcape there muft be 
a confiderable foreground. 

206 This theory is illuftrated by the view of a 
di [proportioned diftance. 

233 An objection anfwered, why vaft diftances, 
tho unfupported by foregrounds, may 
pleafe in nature, and yet offend in repre- 

256 But tho the feveral parts of landfcape may 
be well lallancedy and adjufted ; yet ftill 
without contrajl in the parts, there will 
be a great deficiency. At the fame time 
this contraft muft be eafy, and natural. 

276 Such pictures, as are painted from fancy, are 
the moft pleating efforts of genius. But 
if an untoward fubject be given, the artift, 
muft endeavour to conceal, and vary the 
unaccommodating parts. The foreground 
he muft claim as his own. 

298 But if nature be the fource of all beauty, it 
may be objected, that imaginary views 
can have little merit. The objection has 
weight, if the imaginary view be not 


( iv ) 

formed from the felected parts of nature ; 
but if it be, it is nature frill. 

312 The artift having thus adjufted his forms, and 
difpofition ; conceives next the beft effect 
of light ; and when he has thus laid the 
foundation of his picture, proceeds to 

325 The author avoids giving rules for colouring, 
which are learned chiefly by practice. 

331 He juft touches on the theory of colours. 

352 Artifts, with equally good effect, fometimes 
blend them on their pallet ; and fome- 
times fpread them raw on their canvas. 

362 In colouring, the fky gives the ruling tint to 
the landfcape : and the hue of the whole, 
whether rich, or fober, mufi be harmo- 

406 A predominancy of fliade has the beft effect. 

439 But light, tho it fhould not be fcattered, 
fhould not be collected, as it were, into 
a focus. 

444 The effect of gradation illuftrated by the co- 
louring of cattle. 

463 Of the difpofition of light. 

488 Of the general harmony of the whole. 

499 A method propofed of examining a picture 
with regard to it's general harmony. 

511 The fcientific part being clofed, all that can 
be faid with regard to execution, is, that, 
as there are various modes of it, every 


( v ) 

artifl ought to adopt his own, or elfe he 
becomes a fervile imitator. On the whole, 
the bold free method recommended ; 
which aims at giving the character of 
objects, rather than the minute detail. 

545 Rules given with regard to figures. Hiftory 
in miniature, introduced in landfcape, 
condemned. Figures fhould be fuited to 
the fcene. 

600 Rules to be obferved, in the introduction of 

625 An exhibition is the trueft teft of excellence ; 
where the picture receives it's ftamp, and 
value not from the airs of coxcombs ; but 
from the judgment of men of tafte, and 




O N 



THAT Art, which gives the pra&is'd pencil pow'r 
To rival Nature's graces ; to combine 
In one harmonious whole her fcatter'd charms, 
And o'er them fling appropriate force of light, 
I ting, unfkill'd in numbers ; yet a Mufe, 5 

Led by the hand of Friendlhip, deigns to lend 
Her aid, and give that free colloquial flow, 
Which beft befits the plain preceptive fong. 

To thee, thus aided, let me dare to fing, 
Judicious Loc k e ; who from great Nature's realms 1 o 
Haft culi'd her lovelieft features, and arrang'd 
In thy rich mem'ry's ftorehoufe: Thou, whofe glance, 
Praclis'd in truth and fymmetry, can trace 
In every latent touch, each Matter's hand, 
Whether the marble by his art fubdued 15 

Be foften'd into life, or canvas fmooth 

A Be 

( * ) 

Be fwell'd to animation : Thou, to whom 

Each mode of landfcape, beauteous or fublime, 

With every various colour, tint, and light, 

Its nice gradations, and its bold effects, 20 

Are all famiiiar, patient hear my fong, 

That to thy tafte and fcience nothing new 

Preients, yet humbly hopes from thee to gain 

The plaudit, which, if Nature firft approve, 

Then, and then only, thou wilt deign to yield. 25 

Firft to the youthful artift I addrefs 
This leading precept : Let not inborn pride, 
Prefuming on thy own inventive powers, 
Miflead thine eye from Nature. She mull reign 
Great architype in all : Trace then with care 30 

Her varied walks ; obferve how fhe upheaves 
The mountain's tow'ring brow ; on its rough fides 
Plow broad the fhadow falls, what different hues 
Inveft its glimm'ring furface. Next furvey 
The diftant lake ; fo feen, a fhining fpot : $5 

But when approaching nearer, how it flings 
Its fweeping curves around the lhooting cliffs. 
Mark every fhade its Proteus fhape affumes 
From motion and from reft ; and how the forms 
Of tufted woods, and beetling rocks, and tow'rs 40 
Of ruin'd caftles, from the fmooth expanfc, 
Shade anfw'ring fhade, inverted meet the eye. 
From mountains hie thee to the foreft-fcene. 
Remark the form, the foliage of each tree, 
And what its leading feature : View the oak ; 45 
Its maffy limbs, its majefty of fhade j 


C 3 ) 

The pendent birch ; the beech of many a Item 5 
The lighter afh ; and all their changeful hues 
In fpring or autumn, ruffet, green, or grey. 

Next wander by the river's mazy bank : $o 

See where it dimpling glides ; or brifkly where 
Its whirling eddies fparkle round the rock ; 
Or where, with headlong rage, it dafhes down 
Some fractur'd chafm, till all its fury fpent, 
It links to fleep, a fiient ftagnant pool, £J5 

Dark, tho' tranflucent, from the mantling made. 

Now give thy view more ample range : explore 
The vail expanfe of ocean ; fee, when calm, 
What Iris-hues of purple, green, and gold, 
Play on its glalTy furface ; and when vext 60 

With ilorms, what depth of billowy made, with light 
Of curling foam contrafted. View the cliffs j 
The lonely beacon, and the diftant coaft, 
In mifts array'd, juft heaving into fight 
Above the dim "horizon ; where the fail 65 

Appears confpicuous in the lengthen'd gleam. 

With ftudious eye examine next the arch 
Etherial ; mark each floating cloud ; its form, 
Its varied colour ; and what mafs of (hade 
It gives the fcene below, pregnant with change 70 
Perpetual, from the morning's purple dawn, 
Till the laft glimm'ring ray of ruffet eve. 
Mark how the fun-beam, ileep'd in morning-dew, 
Beneath each jutting promontory flinrs 
A darker made ; while brighten'd with the ray y$ 
Of fultry noon, not yet entirely quench'd, 
The evening-fhadow lefs opaquely falls. 

A 2 Thus 

( 4 ) 

Thus ftor'd with fair ideas, call them forth 
By practice, till thy ready pencil trace 
Each form familiar : but attempt not thou 80 

A whole, till every part be well conceived. 
The tongue that awes a fenate with its force, 
Once lifp'd in fyllables, or e'er it pour'd 
Its glowing periods, warm with patriot-fire. 

At length matur'd, ftand forth for honeft Fame 85 
A candidate. Some noble theme felect 
From Nature's choiceft- fcenes; and fketch that theme 
With firm, but eafy line ; then if my fong 
Aflift thy pow'r, it afks no nobler meed. 

Yet if, when Nature's fov'reign glories meet 90 
Thy fudden glance, no correfponding fpark 
Of vivid flame be kindled in thy breaft ; 
If calmly thou canft view them ; know for thee 
My numbers flow not : feek fome fitter guide 
To lead thee, where the low mechanic toils 95 

With patient labour for his daily hire. 

But if true Genius fire thee, if thy heart 
Glow, palpitate with tranfport, at the fight j 
If emulation feize thee, to transfufe 
Thefe fplendid vifions on thy vivid chart ; ice 

If the big thought feem more than Art can paint, 
Hafte, match thy pencil, bounteous Nature yields 
To thee her choiceft ftores ; and the glad Mufe 
Sits by afliftant, aiming but to fan 
The Promethean flame, confeious her rules 105 

Can only guide, not give, the warmth divine, 


( 5 ) 

Firft learn with objects fuited to each fcene 
Thy landfcape to adorn. If fome rude view 
Thy pencil culls, of lake, or mountain range, 
Where Nature walks with proud majeftic flep, no 
Give not her robe the formal folds of art, 
But bid it flow with ample dignity. 
Mix not the mean and trivial : Is the whole 
Sublime, let each accordant part be grand. 

Yet if thro* dire neceffity (for that 115 

Alone fliould force the deed) forne polifh'd fcene 
Employ thy pallet, drefs'd by human art, 
The lawn fo level, and the bank fo trim, 
Yet ftiii preferve thyfubjecl. Let the oak 
Be elegant of form, that mantles o'er 120 

Thy {haven fore-ground : The rough forefter 
Whofe peel'd and wither' d boughs, and knarled trunk, 
Have flood the rage of many a winter's blaft, 
Might ill fuch cukur'd fcenes adorn. Not lefs 
Would an old Briton, rough with martial fears, 1 25 
And bearing ftern defiance on his brow, 
Seem fitly flationed at a Gallic feaft. 

This choice of objecls Justed to t be fcene, 
We name Design : A choice not more requir'd 
From Raffael, than from thee; whether his hand 130 
Give all but motion to fome group divine, 
Or thine inglorious picture woods and dreams. 

With equal rigour Disposition claims 
Thy clofe attention. Would' ft thou learn its laws, 
Examine Nature, when combin'd with art, 135 

Or fimple j mark how various are her forms, 


( 6 ) 

Mountains enormous, rugged rocks, clear lakes, 

Caftles, and bridges, aqueducts and fanes. 

Of thefe obferve, how fome, united pleafe ; 

"While others, ill-combin'd, difguit the eye. J40 

That principle, which rules thefe various parts, 

And harmonizing all, produces one, 

Is Difpofiiion. By its plaftic pow'r 

Thofe rough materials, which Defign felecb, 

Are nicely balanc'd. Thus with friendly aid 145 

Thefe principles unite : Deftgn prefents 

The gen'ral fubject ; Difpofition culls, 

And recombines, the various forms anew. 

Yet here true Tafte to three diftinguiuVd parts 
Confines her aim : Brought neareft to the^eye 150 
She forms her foregrounds; then the midway fpace; 
E'er the blue diftance melt in liquid air. 

But tho' full oft thefe parts with blending tints 
Are foften'd fo, as wakes a frequent doubt 
Where each begins, where ends; yet ftili {he keeps 1 55 
A gen'ral balance. So when Europe's fons 
Sound the alarm of war ; fome potent hand 
(Now thine again my Albion) poifes true 
The fcale of empire ; curbs each rival pow'r ; 
And checks each lawlefs tyrant's wild career. 160 

Not but there are of fewer parts who plan 
Apleafing picture. Thefe a fe reft glade 
Suffices oft ; behind which, jufl remov'd, 
One tuft of foliage, Waterlo, like thine, 
Gives all we willi of dear variety. 165 


( 7 ) 

For ev'n variety itfelf may pall, 
If to the eye, when paufing with delight 
On one fair objeft, it prefents a mafs 
Of many, which difturb that eye's repofe. 
All hail Simplicity! To thy chafte fhrine, 170 

Beyond all other, let the artilt. bow. 

Oft have I feen arrang'd, by hands that well 
Could pencil Nature's parts, landfcapes, that knew 
No leading fubj eel : Here a foreft rofe ; 
A river there ran dimpling ; and beyond, 175 

The portion of a lake : while rocks, and tow'rs, 
And caftles intermix'd, l'pread o'er the whole 
In multiform confufion. Ancient dame* 
Thus oft compofe of various filken ihreds, 
Some gaudy, patch'd, unmeaning, tawdry thing; 1 80 
Where bucks and cherries, mips and flow'rs, unite 
In one rich compound of abfurdity. 

Chufe then fome principal commanding theme. 
Be it lake, valley, winding ftream, eafcade, 
Caftle, or fea-port, and on that exhauft 185 

Thy pow'rs, and make to that all elfe conform. 

Who paints a landscape, is confin'd by rules. 
As fix'd and rigid as the tragic bard, 
To unity offubject. Is the lcene 

A foreft, nothing there, fave woods and lawns 190 
Mufi rife confpicuous. Epifodes of hills 
And lakes be far remov'd ; all that obtrudes 
On the chief theme, how beautiful foe'er 
Seen as a part, difgufts us in the whole. 

Thus in the realms of landfcape, to preierve 195 
Proportion juft is Difpofitiori 's talk. 


( 8 ') 

And tho' a glance of diftance it allows, 

Ev'n when the foreground fwells upon the fight 1 

Yet if the diftant fcen'ry wide extend, 

The foreground muft be ample: Take free fcope: 200 

Art muft have fpace to ftand on, like the Sage, 

Who boaftcd pow'r to (hake the folid globe. 

This thou muft claim ; and, if thy diftance fpread 

Profufe, muft claim it amply : Uncombin'd 

With foreground, diftance lofes pow'r to pleafe. 205 

Where riling from the folid rock, appear 
Thofe ancient battlements, there liv'd a knight, 
That oft furveying from his caftle wall 
1 he wide expanfe before him ; diftance vaft ; 
Interminable wilds ; favannahs deep ; 210 

Dark woods; and village fpires, and glitt'ring ftreams, 
Juft twinkling in the fun-beam, wifti'd the view 
Transferr'd to canvafs, and for that fage end, 
Led fome obedient fon of Art to where 
His own unerring tafte had previous fix'd 215 

The point of ampleft profpe<5t. " Take thy ftand 
" Juft here," he cry'd, " and paint me all thou feeft, 
*' Omit no fmgle object." It was done ; 
And foon the live-long landfcape cloaths his hall, 
And fpreads from bafe to ceiling. All was there; 220 
As to his guefts, while dinner cool'd, the knight 
Full oft would prove ; and with uplifted cane 
Point to the diftant fpire, where flept entomb'd 
His anceftry ; beyond, where lay the town, 
Skirted with wood, that gave him place and voice 225 
In Britain's fenate ; nor untrae'd the ftream 
That fed the goodly trout they foon fhould tafte ; 


( 9 ) 

Nor ev'ry fcatter'd feat of friend, or foe, 

He calls his neighbours. Heedlefs he, meanwhile, 

That what he deems the triumph of his tafte, 230 

Is but a painted furvey, a mere map ; 

Which light and fhade and perfpecfcive mifplac'd 

But ferve to fpoil. 

Yet why (methinks I hear 
Some Critic fay) do ample fcenes like this 
In picture fail to pleafe ; when ev'ry eye 235 

Confefles they tranfport on Nature* s chart ? 

Why, but becaufe, where flie difplays the fcene, - 
The roving fight can paufe, and fwift felecl:, 
From all fhe offers, parts, whereon to fix, 
And form diftincT: perceptions ; each of thefe 240 
Producing fep'rate pictures ; and as bees 
Condenfe within their hives the varying fweets j 
So does the eye a lovely whole collect 
From parts dif jointed ; nay, perhaps, deform' d. 
Then deem not Art defective, which divides, 245 
Rejects, or recombines : but rather fay, 
'Tis her chief excellence. There is, we know, 
A charm unfpeakable in converfe free 
Of lover, or of friend, when foul with foul 
Mixes in focial intercourfe ; when choice 250 

Of phrafe, and rules of rhet'ric are difdained ; 
Yet fay, adopted by the tragic bard, 
If Jaffier thus with Belvidera talk'd, 
So vague, fo rudely, would not want of fkill, 
Selection, and arrangement, damn the fcene ? 255 

Thy forms, tho' balanced, ftill perchance may want 
3 The 

( io ) 

The charm of Contrq/i : Sing we then its pow'r. 

'Tis Beauty's fureft fource ; it regulates 

Shape, colour, light, and {hade; forms ev'ry line 

By cppofition juji ; whate'er is rough 260 

With fkill delufive counteracts hyfnmtb; 

Sinuous, or concave, by its oppofite j 

Yet ever covertly: mould Art appear, 

That art were Affectation. Then alone 

"We own the power of Contrajt, when the lines 265 

Unite with Nature's freedom : then alone, 

When from its carelefs touch each part receives 

A pleafing form. The lake's contracted bounds 

By contrail varied, elegantly flow ; 

Th' unwieldy mountain links ; here, to remove 270 

OfFenfive parallels, the hill depreft 

Is lifted ; there the heavy beech expung'd 

Gives place to airy pines ; if two bare knolls 

Rife to the right and left, a cattle here, 

And there a wood, diverfify their form. 27^ 

Thrice happy he, who always can indulge 
This pleafing feaft of fancy ; who, replete 
With rich ideas, can arrange their charms 
As his own genius prompts, and plan and paint 
A novel whole. But taftelefs wealth oft claims 280 
The faithful portrait, and will fix the fcene 
Where Nature's lines run falfely, or refufe 
To harmonize. Artift, if thus employ'd, 
1 pity thy mifchance. Yet there are means 
Ev'n here to hide defects : The human form, 28 5 


C il ) 

Pourtray'd by Reynolds, oft abounds with grace 
He faw not in his model ; which nor hurts 
Refemblance, nor fictitious fkill betrays. 
Why then, if o'er the limb uncouth he flings 
The flowing veft, may not thy honeft art 290 

Veil with the foliage of fome fpreading tree, 
Unpleafmg objects, or remote, or near ? 
An ample licence for fuch needful change, 
The foregrounds give thee: Therebothmendandmake. 
Whoe'er oppofes, tell them, 'tis the fpot 295 

Where fancy needs muft fport ; where, if reftrain'd 
To clofe refemblance, thy beft art expires. 

What if they plead, that from thy gen'ral rule, 
That refts on Nature as the only fource 
Of beauty, thou revolt'ft ; tell them that rule 30c 
Thou hold'ft ftill facred : Nature is its fource ; 
Yet Nature's parts fail to receive alike 
The fair impreffion. View her varied range : 
Each form that charms is there; yet her beft forms 
Muft be feleded : As the fculptur'd charms 30 c 

Of the fam'd Venus grew, fo muft thou cull 
From various fcenes fuch parts as beft create 
One perfect whole. If Nature ne'er array 'd 
Her moft accompliih'd work with grace compleat% 
Think, will ihe wafte on defert rocks, and dells, 3 1 o 
What flie denies to Woman's charming form ? 

And now, if on review thy chalk'd defign^ 
Brought into form by Difpofitiorf 's aid, 
Difpieafe not, trace thy lines with pencil free ; 
Add lightly too that general mafs of fhade, 3 1 5 

B 2 . Which 

( 12 ) 

Which fuits the form and fafhion of its parts. 

There are who, ftudious of the beft effects, 

Firft fketch a flight cartoon : Such previous care 

Is needful, where the Artift's fancy fails 

Precifely to forefee the future whole. 320 

This done, prepare thy pallet, mix thy tints, 
And call on chafte Simplicity again 
To fave her votary from whate'er of hue, 
Difcordant or abrupt, may flaunt or glare. 

Yet here to bring materials from the mine, 325 
From animal, or vegetable dies, 
And fing their various properties and pow'rs, 
The Mufe defcends not. To mechanic rules, 
To profe, and practice, which can only teach 
The ufe of pigments, flie refigns the toil. 33Q 

One truth fhe gives, that Nature's Ample loom 
Weaves but with three diftinct, or mingled, hues, 
The veil that cloaths Creation : Thefe are red, 
Azure, and yellow. Pure and unftain'd white 
(If colour deem'd) rejects her gen'ral law, 335 

And is by her rejected. Doft thou deem 
The gloffy furface of yon heifer's coat 
A perfect white ? Or yon vaft heaving cloud 
That climbs the diftant hill ? With cerufe bright 
Attempt to catch its tint, and thou wilt fail. 340 

Some tinge of purple, or fome yellowifh brown, 
Muft firft be blended, e'er thy toil fucceed. 
Pure white, great Nature wifhes to expunge 


( '3 ) 

From all her works ; and only then admits, 
When with her mantle broad of fleecy fnow 345 
She wraps them, to fecure from chilling froft ; 
Confcious, mean while, that what me gives to guard 3 
Conceals their ev'ry charm ; the ftole of night 
Not more eclipfes : yet that fable ftole 
May, by the fkilful mixture of thefe hues, 350 

Be fhadow'd ev'n to dark Cimmerian gloom. 

Draw then from thefe, as from three plenteous fprings, 
Thy brown, thy purple, crimfon, orange, green, 
Nor load thy pallet with a ufelefs tribe 
Of pigments, when commix'd with needful white, 355 
As fuits thy end, thefe native three fuffice. 
But if thou doft, ftill cautious keep in view 
That harmony which thefe alone can give. 

Yet ftill there are, who fcorning all the rules 
Of dull mechanic art, with random hand 360 

Fling their unblended colours, and produce 
Bolder effects by oppofition's aid. 

The Sky, whate'er its hue, to landfcape gives 
A correfpondent tinge. The morning ray 
Spreads it with purple light, in dew-drops fteep'd ; 36$ 
The evening; fires it with a crimfon °;low. 
Blows the bleak North ? It fheds a cold, blue tint 
On all it touches. Do light mifts prevail ? 
A foft grey hue o'erfpreads the gen'ral fcene, 370 
And makes that fcene, like beauty view'd thro' gauze, 
More delicately lovely. Chufe thy fky ; 
But let that fky, whate'er the tint it takes, 


( '4 ) 

O'er-rule thy pallet. Frequent have I feen, 

In landfcapes well compofed, aerial hues 

So ill-preferv'd, that whether cold or heat, 375 

Tempefl or calm, prevaiPd, was dubious all. 

Not fo thy pencil, Claude, the leafon marks: 

Thou mak'ft us pant beneath thy fummer noon ; 

And fhiver in thy cool autumnal eve. 

Such are the pow'rs of Iky; and therefore Art 380 
Selects what beft is fuited to the fcenes 
It means to form : to this adapts a morn, 
To that an ev'ning ray. Light mifts full oft 
Give mountain-views an added dignity, 
While tame impoverifh'd lcenery claims the force 385 
Of fplendid lights and fhades ; nor claims in vain. 

Thy fky adjufted, all that is remote 
Firft colour faintly : leaving to the laft 
Thyforeground. Eafier'tis,thouknow'ft,tofpread 
Thy floating foliage o'er the fky ; than mix 390 

That iky amid the branches. Venture ftill 
On warmer tints, as diftances approach 
Nearer the eye : nor fear the richeft hues, 
If to thofe hues thou giv'ft the meet fupport 
Of ftrong oppofmg made. A canvas once 395 

I faw, on which the Artift dar'd to paint 
A fcene in Indoftan ; where gold, and pearl 
Barbaric, flam'd on many a broider'd veft 
Profufely fplendid : yet chafte Art was there, 
Oppofing hue to hue ; each fliadow deep 400 

So fpread, that all with fweet accord produc'd 
A bright, yet modeft whole. Thus blend thy tints, 


I '5 ) 

Be they of fcarlet, orange, green, or gold, 
Harmonious, till one gen'ral glow prevail 
Unbroken by abrupt and hoftile glare. 405 

— Let {hade predominate, it makes each light 
More lucid, yet deftroys offenfive glare. 
Mark when in fleecy ihow'rs of fnow, the clouds 
Seem to defcend, and whiten o'er the land, 
What unfubftantial unity of tinge 410 

Involves each profpect. : Vifion is abforb'd ; 
Or, wand' ring thro' the void, finds not a point 
To reft on : All is mockery to the eye. 
Thus lis-ht diffus'd, debafes that effect 
"Whichihadeimproves. Behold what glorious fcenes 415 
Arife thro' Nature's works from fhade. Yon lake 
With all its circumambient woods, far lefs 
Would charm the eye, did not the dufky mift 
Creeping along its eaftern fhores, afcend 
Thofe tow'ring cliffs, mix with the ruddy beam 420 
Of opening day, juft damp its fires, and fpread 
O'er ail the fcene a fweet obfcurity. 

But would* ft thou fee the full effect of fhade 
Well mafs'd, at eve mark that upheaving cloud, 
Which charg'd with all th' artillery of jove, 425 
In awful darknefs, marching from the eait, 
Afcends ; fee how it blots the Iky, and fpreads, 
Darker, and darker ftill, its dufoy veil, 
Till from the eaft to weft, the ccoe of heav'n 
It curtains ciofely round. Haply thou ftand'ft 430 
Expectant of the loud convulflve burft, 


c >6 ) 

"When lo ! the fun, juft finking in the weft, 
Pours from th' horizon's verge a fplendid ray, 
Which tenfold grandeur to the darknefs adds. 
Far to the eaft the radiance moots, juft tips 435 

Thofe tufted groves ; but all its fplendour pours 
On yonder caftled cliff, which chiefly owes 
Its glory, and fupreme effect, to made. 

Thus light, inforc'd by fhadow, fpreads a ray 
Still brighter. Yet forbid that light to fhine 440 
A glitt'ring fpeck ; for this were to illume 
Thy picture, as the convex glafs collects, 
All to one dazzling point, the folar rays. 

Whate'er the force of oppofition^ ftill 
In foft gradation equal beauty lies. 445 

When the mild luftre glides from light to dark, 
The eye well-pleas'd purfues it. 'Mid the herds 
Of variegated hue, that graze our lawns, 
Oft may the Artift trace examples juft 
Of this fedate effect, and oft remark 450 

Its oppofite. Behold yon lordly Bull, 
His fable head, his lighter moulders ting'd 
With flakes of brown ; at length ftill lighter tints 
Prevailing, graduate o'er his flank and loins 
In tawny orange. What, if on his front 455 

A ftar of white appear ? The general mafs 
Of colour fpreads unbroken ; and the mark 
Gives his ftern front peculiar ^jharac~ter. 

Ah! how degenerate from her well-cloath'd fire 
That heifer. See her fides with white and black 460 


■ i 

C '7 ) 

So ftudded, fo diftincT:, each juftling each, 
The groundwork-colour hardly can be known. 

Of lights, if more than two thy landfcape boaft, 
It boafts too much : But if two lights be there, 
Give one pre-eminence : with that be fure 465 

Illume thy foreground, or thy midway fpaee ; 
But rarely fpread it on the diftant fccnc. 
Yet there, if level plains, or fens appear, 
And meet the fky, a lengthen'd gleam of light 
Difcreetly thrown, will vary the flat fcene. 470 

But if that diftance be abruptly clo.s'd 
By mountains, caft them into total {hade ; 
111 fuit gay robes their hoary majefty. 
Sober be all their hues ; except, perchance, 
Approaching nearer in the midway fpace, 475 

One of the giant-brethren tow'r fublime. 
To him thy art may aptly give a gleam 
Of radiance : 'twill befit his awful head, 
Alike, when rifing thro' the morning-dews 
In mifty dignity, the pale, wan ray, 480 

Invefts him ; or when, beaming from the weft, 
A fiercer fplendour opens to our view 
All his terrific features, ruo-o-ed cliffs, 
Andyawning chafms, which vapours thro' the day 
Had veiPd ; dens where the Lynx or Pard might, dwell 
In noon-tide fafety, meditating there 486 

His next nocturnal ravage thro' the land. 

Are now thy lights and fhades adjufted all f 
Yet paufe : perhaps the perfpe&ive is juft ; 

C Perhaps 

( i8 ) 

Perhaps each local hue is duly plac'd ; 490 

Perhaps the light offends not ; harmony- 
May ftill be wanting, that which forms a whole 
From colour, fhade, gradation, is not yet 
Obtain'd. Avails it ought, in civil life, 
If here and there a family unite 495 

In bonds of peace, while difcord rends the land, 
And pale-eyM Faction, with her garment dipp'd 
In blood, excites her guilty fons to war ? 

To aid thine eye, diftruftful if this end 
Be fully gain'd, wait for the twilight hour : 500 

When the grey owl, failing on lazy wing, 
Her circuit takes; whcti length'ning fhades diffolve ; 
Then in fome corner place thy finifh'd piece, 
Free from each garifh ray : Thine eye will there 
Be undifturb'd by parts ; there will the whole 505 
Be view'd collectively ; the diftance there 
Will from its foreground pleafingly retire, 
As diftance ought, with true decreafing tone. 
If not, if fhade or light be out of place, 
Thou feeft the error, and may'ft yet amend. 510 

Here fcience ceafes, tho* to clofe the theme, 
One labour ftill, and of Herculean caft, 
Remains unfung, the art to execute, 
And what its happiefl mode. In this, alas ! 
What numbers fail; tho' paths, as various, lead 515 
To that fair end, as to thy ample walls 
Imperial London. Every Artifl takes 


( 19 ) 

His own peculiar manner ; fave the hand 

Coward, and cold, that dare not leave the track 

Its mailer taught. Thou who would'ft boldy feize 520 

Superior excellence, obferve, with care, 

The ftyle of ev'ry Artift ; yet difdain 

To mimic ev'n the beft : Enough for thee 

To gain a knowledge from what various modes 

The fame effect remits. Artifts there are, 525 

Who, with exactnefs painful to behold, 

Labour each leaf, and each minuter mofs, 

Till with enamell'd furface all appears 

Compleatly fmooth. Others with bolder hand, 

By Genius guided, mark the gen'ral form, 53c 

The leading features, which the eye of Tafte, 

Practis'd in Nature, readily tranflates. 

Here lies the point of excellence. A piece, 

Thus finiuYd, tho' perhaps the playful toil 

Of three fhort mornings, more enchants the eye, $35 

Than what was labour'd thro' as many moons. 

Why then fuch toil mifpent ? We do not mean, 
With clofe and microfcopic eye, to pore 
On ev'ry ftudied part : The praftis'd judge 
Looks chiefly on the whole ; and if thy hand 540 
Be guided by true Science, it is fure 
To guide thy pencil freely. Scorn thou then 
On parts minute to dwell : The characler 
Of objects aim at, not the nice detail. 

Now is the fcene compleat: with Nature's eafe, 545 
Thy woods, and lawns, and rocks, and fplendid lakes, 
C 2 And 

( 20 ) 

And diftant hills unite ; it but remains 

To people thcfe fair regions. Some for this 

Confult the facred page ; and in a nook 

Obfcure, prefent the Patriarch's teft of faith, 550 

The little altar, and the victim fon: 

Or haply, to adorn fome vacant Iky, 

Load it with forms, that fabling Bard fupplies 

Who fang of bodies chang'd ; the headlong Heeds, 

The car upheav'd, of Phaeton, while he, 55$ 

Rafli boy ! fpreads on the plain his pallid corfe, 

His fitters weeping round him. Groups like thefe 

Befit not landfcape : Say, does Abraham there 

Ought that fome idle peafant might not do ? 

Is there expreflion, pafTion, character, 560 

To mark the Patriarch's fortitude and faith ? 

The fcanty fpace which perfpeclive allows, 

Forbids. Why then degrade his dignity 

By paltry miniature ? Why make the feer 

A mere appendage ? Rather deck thy fcene 565 

With figures fimply fuited to its ftyle. 

The landfcape is thy object ; and to that, 

Be thefe the wider-parts. Yet ftill obferve 

Propriety in all. The fpeckled Pard, 

Or tawny Lion, ill would glare beneath 570 

The Britifh oak ; and Britifh flocks and herds 

Would graze as ill on Afric's burning fands. 

If rocky, wild, and awful, be thy views, 

Low arts of hufbandry exclude : The fpade, 

The plough, the patient angler with his rod, S75 

Be banifh'd thence ; far other guefts invite, 


( 21 ) 

Wild as thofe fcenes themfelves, banditti fierce, 
And gipfey-tribes, not merely to adorn, 
But to imprefs that fentiment more ftrong, 
Awak'd already by the favage-fcene. 580 

Oft winding flowly up the foreft glade, 
The ox-team lab 'ring, drags the future keel 
Of fome high admiral : no ornament 
Aflifts the woodland fcene like this ; while far 
Remov'd, feen by a gleam among the trees, 585 

The foreft-herd in various groups repofe. 

Yet, if thy fldil mould fail to people well 
Thy landfcape, leave it defert. Think how Claude 
Oft crouded fcenes,whichNature's felf might own, 
With forms ill-drawn, ill-chofen, ill-arrang'd, 590 
Of man and beaft, o'er loading with falfe tafte 
His fylvan glories. Seize them, Peftilence, 
And fweep them far from our difgufted fight. 

If, o'er thy canvas Ocean pours his tide, 
The full nz'd veffel, with its fwelling fail, 59^ 

Be cautious to admit ; unlefs thy art 
Can give it cordage, pennants, mafts, and form 
Appropriate ; rather with a carelefs touch 
Of light, or fhade, juft mark the diftant fkifF. 

Nor thou refufe that ornamental aid, 600 

The feather' d race afford. When flutt'ring near 
The eye, we own abfurdity refults, 
They feem both fix'd and moving : but beheld 
At proper diftance, they will fill thy £ky 
With animation : Give them there free fcope 605 
Their pinions in the blue ferene to ply. 


( a ) 

Far tip yon river, opening to the fea, 
Juft where the diftant coaft extends a curve, 
A lengthen'd train of fea-fowl urge their flight. 
Obferve their files ! In what exa<5l array 610 

The dark battalion floats, diflinctly feen 
Before yon filver cliff! Now, now, they reach 
That lonely beacon ; now are loll again 
In yon dark cloud. How pleafing is the fight ! 
The forefl-glade from its wild, tim'rous herd, 615 
Receives not richer ornament, than here 
From birds this lonely fea-view. Ruins too 
Are grae'd by fucr» additions : not the force 
Of ftron-x and catching lights adorn them more, 
Than do the dufky tribes of rooks, and daws, 620 
Flutt'ring their broken battlements among. 
Place but thefe feather'd groups at diflance due* 
The eye, by fancy aided, fees them move ; 
Flit paft the cliff, or circle round the tow'r. 

Thy landfcape finifh'd, tho' it meet thy own 62$ 
Approving judgment, flill requires a teft, 
More general, more decifive. Thine's an eye 
Too partial to be trufted. Let it hang 
On the rich wall, which emulation fills ; 
Where rival mailers court the world's applaufe. 630 
There travelPd virtuofi, ftalking round, 
"With ftrut important, peering thro' the hand, 
Hollow'd in telefcopic form, furvey 
Each lucklefs piece, and uniformly damn ; 
AfTuming for their own the tafle they Ileal. 6$$ 

" This 

( ^3 ) 

fi This has not Guido's air:" " This poorly apes 

" Titian's rich colouring:" "Rembranfs forms arehere^ 

" But not his light and fliadow." Skilful they 

In ev'ry hand, fave Nature's. What if thefe 

With Gafpar or with Claude thy work compare, 640 

And therefore fcorn it ; let the pedants prate 

Unheeded. But if tafte, correct and pure, 

Grounded on practice ; or, what more avails 

Than practice, observation juftly form'd 

On Nature's bed examples and effects, 645 

Approve thy landfcape ; if judicious Locke 

See not an error he would wifh remov'd, 

Then boldly deem thyfelf the heir of Fame. 





34 OOME perhaps may object to the word 

k-/ glimmering ;, but whoever has obferved 

the playing lights, and colours, which 

often invert the fummits of mountains, 

will not think the epithet improper. 

45 What it's leading feature ; that is, the par- 
ticular character of the tree. The dif- 
ferent fhape of the leaves, and the dif- 
ferent mode of fpreading it's branches, 
give every tree, a dijlintl form y or 
charatler. At a little diftance you eafily 
diftinguifh the oak from the afh ; and 
the afh from the beech. It is this 
general form> not any particular detail, 
which the artift is inftrueted to get by 
heart. The fame remark holds with 
D regard 

( 26 ) 

regard to other parts of nature. Thefe 
general forms may be called the painter s 
alphabet. By thefe he learns to read her 
works ; and alfo to make them intelli- 
gible to others. 

6 1 IVith light of curling foam conlrajled. The 
progrefs of each wave is this. Beneath 
the frothy curl, when it rifes between 
the eye, and the light, the colour is 
pale green, which brightens from the 
bafe towards the fummit. When a wave 
fubfides, the fummit falling into the 
bafe, extends, and raifes it ; and the 
fides running off from the centre, that 
part of the water which meets the fuc- 
ceeding wave, fprings upward from the 
fhock ; the top forms into foam, and 
rolling over falls down the fide, which 
has been mocked ; prefenting if the 
water be much agitated, the idea of a 

77 The evening-fhadozv lefs opaquely falls. It is 
not often obferved by landfcape-painters, 
tho it certainly deferves obfervation, that 
the morning-fhadows are darker than thofe 
of the evening, 
i oi If the big thought feem more than art can paint. 
It is always a fign of genius to be dif- 
fatisfied with our own efforts ; and to 
conceive more than we can exprefs. 

j 46 Defign 

( 2 7 ) 

1 46 Dejign prefents the general JubjeEt t difpoJition % 
&c. Some writers on the art of painting 
have varied this divifion. But it feems 
moft proper, I think, to give the fe- 
leclion of the elements of landfcape — 
the alfembling of rocks, mountains, ca- 
taracts, and other objects to dejign : while 
difpojition is properly employed in the 
local arrangement of them. 

j 49 The general compofition of a landfcape con- 
lifts of three parts — the foreground — the 
fecond ground — and the diftance. No 
rule can be given for proportioning thefe 
parts to each other- There are tert 
thoufand beautiful proportions ; from 
which the eye of tafte mufl felect a 
good one. The foreground mult always 
be confiderable — in fome cafes, ample. 
It is the very balls, and foundation of 

the whole. Nor is it a bad rule, I 

think, that fome part of the foreground 
ihould be the higheft part of the picture. 
In rocky, and mountainous views this 
is eafy, and has generally a good effect. 
And fometimes even when a country is 
more level, a tree on the foreground, 
carried higher than the reft of the land- 
fcape, anfwers the end. At the fame 
time in many fpecies of landfcape this 
D 2 rule 

( 28 ) 

rule cannot eafily be adapted : nor is it 
by any means effential. 

164 IVaterhy like thine. The fubjects of this 
matter feldom went beyond fome little 
foreft-view. He has etched a great num- 
ber of prints in this ftile of landfcape ; 
which for the beauty of the trees in par- 
ticular, are much admired. 

1 73 Land/capes, that knew no leading fubje St. There 
is not a rule in landfcape-painting more 
neglected ; or that ought more to be ob- 
ferved, than what relates to a leading- 
fubjecl. By the leading fubject, we mean, 
what characterizes the Jcene. We often 
fee a landfcape, which comes under no 
denomination. Is it the fcenery about a 
ruin ? Is it a lake-fcene ? Is it a river- 
fcene ? No : but it is a jumble of all 
together. Some leading fubject: there- 
fore is required in every landfcape, which 
forms it's character ; and to which the 

-" — ' ■ is confined by rules, 

As fixed, and rigid as the tragic bard. 

when the landfcape takes it's character from 
a ruin, or other object: on the foreground, 
the dijlance introduced, is merely an ap- 
pendage ; and mult plainly appear to be 
an under-part; not interfering with the 


( 29 ) 

fubject of the piece. But moft commonly 
the fcene, or leading-fubject of the pic- 
ture, occupies the middle diftance. In 
this cafe, the foreground becomes the 
appendage ; and without any ftriking 
object to attract the eye, muft plainly 
fhew, that it is intended only to intro- 
duce the leading-fubject with more ad- 

190 Thus, in a foreft-fcene, the woods and lawns 
are the leading-fubject. If the piece will 
admit it, a hill, or a lake, may be admit- 
ted in remote diftance: but they muft be 
introduced, only as the epifodes in a 
poem, to fet off the main fubject.. They 
muft not interfere with it ; but be far 

197 And iho a glance. It is certain, in fact, that 
a considerable foreground, with a glance 
of diftance, will make a better picture, 
than a wide diftance, fet off only with a 
meagre foreground : and yet I doubt 
whether an adequate reafon can be given ; 
unlefs it be founded on what hath already 
been advanced, that we confider the fore- 
ground as the bafiSy and foundation of the 
whole piclure. So that if it is not consi- 
derable in all circumftances, and extenfive 
in fome, there feems a defect. 

D 3 280 A 

( 3° ) 

280 A novel whole. The imaginary-view, formed 
on a judicious felection, and arrangement 
of the parts of nature, has a better chance 
of making a good picture, than a view 
taken in the whole from any natural fcene. 
Not only the lines, and objects of the na- 
tural fcene rarely admit a happy compoli- 
tion j but the character of it is feldom 
throughout preferved. Whether it btfti- 
blime y or beautiful^ there is generally fome- 
thing mixed with it of a nature unfuitable 
to it. Ail this the exhibition of fancy rec- 
tifies, when in the hands of a matter. 
Nor does he claim any thing, but what 
the poet, and he are equally allowed. 
Where is the flory in real life, on which 
the poet can form either an epic, or a 
drama, unlefs heightened by his imagina- 
tion ? At the fame time he muft take 
care, that all his imaginary additions are 
founded in nature, or his work will dif- 
guft. Such alfo muft be the painter's 
care. But under this reftridion, he cer- 
tainly may bring together a more confident 
whole t culled from the various parts of 
nature, than nature herfelf exhibits in 
any one fcene. 

3 1 4 Trace thy lines with pencil free. The mafter is 
difcovered even in his chalk, or black- 
lead lines — fo free, firm, and intelligent. 


C 3i ) 

We often admire thefe firft, rude touches. 
The ftory of the two old mailers will be 
remcmbred, who left cards of compli- 
ments to each other, on which only the 
fimple outline of a figure was drawn by 
one, and corrected by the other; but 
with fuch a fuperior elegance in each, 
that the lignature of names could not have 
marked them more decifively. 

318 Firft Jketch a flight cartoon. It is the practice 
indeed of the generality of painters, when 
they have any great delign to execute, 
to make a flight fketch, fometimes on 
paper, and fometimes on canvas. And 
thefe fketches are often greatly fuperior 
to the principal picture, which has been 
laboured, and fmiihed with the exacftefr. 
care. King William on horfe-back at 
Hampton court, by fir Godfrey Kneller, 
is a ftriking example of this remark. 
The pidture is highly finillied ; but is a 
tame, and unmafterly performance. At 
Houghton-hall I have feen the original 
fketch of this picture; which I mould 
have valued, not only greatly beyond the 
picture itfelf, but beyond any thing I ever 
faw from the pencil of fir Godfrey. 

331 One truth Jhe gives, &c. From thefe three 

virgin colours, red, blue, and yellow, all 

the tints of nature are compofed. Greens 

D 4 of 

( 32 ) 

of various hues, are compofed of blue, 
and yellow: orange, of red, and yellow: 
purple and violet, of red, and blue. The 
tints of the rainbow feem to be compofed 
alfo of thefe colours. They lie in order 
thus : violet — red — orange — yellow — green 
— blue — violet — red: in which affortment 
we obferve that orange comes between 
red y and yellow; that is, it is compofed 
of thofe colours melting into each other. 
Green is in the fame way compofed of 
yellow and blue ; and violet, or purple of 

blue, and red. Nay even browns of all 

kinds may, in a degree, be effected by a 
mixture of thefe original colours : fo may 
grey ; and even a kind of black, tho not 
a perfect one. As all pigments how- 
ever are deficient, and cannot approach 
the rainbow colours, which are the pureft 
we know, the painter muft often, even in 
his fplendid tints, call in different reds, 
blues, and yellows. Thus as vermilion, 
tho an excellent red on many occalions, 
cannot give the rofy, crimfon hue, he 
muft often call in lake. Nor will he find 
any yellow, or blue, that will anfwer 
every purpofe. In the tribe of browns 
he will be Hill more at a lofs ; and muft 
have recourfe to different earths. — In oil- 
painting one of the fineft earths is known, 


( 33 ) 

at the colour-mops, by the name of caftU- 
earthy or Vandyke 's-brown; as it is fuppofed 
to have been ufcd by that mailer. 

336 And is by her rejeffed. Scarce any natural 
object, but fnow, is purely white. The 
chalk-cliff is generally in a degree difco- 
loured. The petals of the fnow-drop 
indeed, and of fome other flowers, are 
purely white: but feldom any of the 
larger parts of nature. 

358 Keep in view that harmony y &c. Tho it will be 
necefTary to ufe other colours, befides 
yellow, red, and blue, this union fhould 
however frill be kept in view, as the 
leading principle of harmony. A mix- 
ture indeed of thefe three will produce 
nearly the colour you want : but the more 
colours are mixed, the muddier they grow. 
It will give more clearnefs therefore, and 
brightnefs to your colouring, to ufe fimple 
pigments, of which there are great abun- 
dance in the painter's difpenfatory. 

36 [ This mode of colouring is the molt difficult 
to attain, as it is the molt fcientific. It 
includes a perfect knowledge of the effects 
of colours in all their various agreements, 
and oppofitions. When attained, it is 
the moft eafy in practice. The artift, 
who blends his colours on his pallet, 
depends more on his eye, than on his 


( 34 ) 

knowledge. He works out his effect by 
a more laboured procefs ; and yet he may 
produce a good picture in the end. 

380 Nobody was better acquainted with the effects 
of Iky, nor ftudied them with more at- 
tention, than the younger Vanderveldt. 
Not many years ago, an old Thames-wa- 
terman was alive, who remembred him 
well; and had often carried him out in 
his boat, both up and down the river, 
to ftudy the appearances of the fky. The 
old man ufed to fay, they went out in all 
kinds of weather, fair, and foul; and Mr. 
Vanderveldt took with him large fheets 
of blue paper, which he would mark all 
over with black, and white. The artift 
eafily fees the intention of this procefs. 
Thefe expeditions Vanderveldt called, in 
his Dutch manner of fpeaking, going a 

401 The moft remarkable inflance of ingenious 
colouring I ever heard of, is in Guido's 
St. Michael. The whole picture is com- 
pofed of blue, red, and black ; by means 
of which colours the ideas of heaven and 
hell are blended together in a very extra- 
ordinary manner ; and the effect exceed- 
ingly fublime ; while both harmony, and 
chaftenefs are preferved in the higheft 

406 Let 

( 35 ) 

406 Let Jhade predominate. As a general rule> the 
half-tints mould have more extent than 
the lights ; and the fhadows fhculd equal 
both put together. Yet why a predo- 
minancy of made fhould plcafe the eye 
more than a predominancy of light, would 
perhaps be difficult to explain. I can 
eafily conceive, that a balance of light and 
fhade may be founded in fome kind of 
reafon ; but am at a lofs to give a reafon 
for a predominancy of either. The fact 
however is undoubted; and we muft fkreen 
our ignorance of the principle, as well 
as we can. 

440 This rule refpects an offered difplay of light. 
If it be introduced as a focus, fo as not 
to fall naturally on the feveral objects it 
touches, it difgufts. Rembrandt, I doubt, 
is fometimes chargeable with this fault. 
He is commonly fuppofed to be a mafter 
of this part of painting; and we often 
fee very beautiful lights in his pictures, 
and prints : but as in many of them we 
fee the reverfe, he appears to have had 
no fixed principle. Indeed, few parts of 
painting are fo much neglected, fo eafily 
tranfgreffed, and fo little underftood, as 
the diftribution of light. 

444 Oppofitioiiy and gradation are the two grand, 
means of producing effect by light. In 


( 36 ) 

the picture juft given (1. 424. Sec.) of the 
evening-ray, the effect is produced by 
oppofition. Beautiful effects too of the 
fame kind arife often from catching lights. 
The power of producing effect by 
gradation, is not lefs forcible. Indeed, 
without a degree of gradation, oppofition 
itfelf would be mute. In the picture juft 
given of the evening-ray, the grand part 
of the effect, no doubt, arifes from the 
oppofition between the gloom, and the 
light : but in part it arifes alfo from the 
gradation of the light, till it reach it's 
point. It juft tips 

The tufted groves ; but all it's fplendor pours 
On yonder caftled cliff. « 

447 The colours of animals often ftrongly illuftrate 
the idea of gradation. When they foften 
into each other, from light to dark, or 
from one colour into another, the mixture 
is very picturefque. It is as much the 
reverfe, when white and black, or white, 
and red, are patched over the animal in 
blotches, without any intermediate tints. 
Domeftic cattle, cows, dogs, fwine, goats, 
and cats, are often difagreeably patched : 
tho we fometimes fee them pleafingly 
coloured with a graduating tint. Wild 
animals, in general, are more uniformly 


f 37 ) 

coloured, than tame. Except the zebra, 
and two or three of the fpotted race, I 
recoiled: none which are not, more or 
lets, tinted in this graduating manner. 
The tiger, the panther, and other varie- 
gated animals have their beauty : but the 
zebra, I think, is rather a curious, than 
a piclurefque animal. It's ftreaked fides 
injure it both in point of colour, and in 
the delineation of it's form. 
467 But rarely Jpread it on the dijiant Jcene. In 
general perhaps a landfcape is beft in- 
lightened, when the li^ht falls on the 
middle parts of the picture ; and the 
foreground is in fhadow. This throws a 
kind of natural retiring hue throughout 
the landfcape : and tho the dijiance be iu 
JIjadow y yet that fhadow is fo faint, that 
the retiring hue is ftill preferved. This 
however is only a general rule. In hifto- 
ry-painting the light is properly thrown 
upon the figures on the foreground; which 
are the capital part of the picture. In 
landfcape the middle grounds commonly 
form the Jcene, or the capital part ; and 
the foreground is litttle more, than an 
appendage. Sometimes however it hap- 
pens, that a ruin, or fome other capital 
object on the foreground, makes the prin- 
cipal part of the Jcene. When that is the 


( 3S ) 

cafe, it fhould be diftinguimed by light; 
unlefs it be fo fituated as to receive more 
diltindion from made. 

482^ fiercer Jplendor opens to our view all his 
terrific features. It is very amufing, in 
mountainous countries, to obferve the 
appearance, which the fame mountain 
often makes under different circumfian- 
ces. When it is inverted with light 
mifts ; or even when it is not illumined, 
we fee it's whole fummit perhaps under 
one grey tint. But as it receives the fun, 
efpecially an evening-fun, we fee a va- 
riety of fractures, and chafms gradually 
opening, of which we difcovered not the 
leaft appearance before. 

488 Tho the objects may leffen in due proportion, 
which is called keeping; tho the gra- 
duating hue of retiring objects, or the 
aerial perfpeffive, may be juft; and tho 
the light may be diftributed according 
to the rules of art ; yet ftill there may 
not be that general refult of harmony, 
which denotes the picture one objeil : and 
as the eye may be milled, when it has 
the feveral parts before it, the bed way 
of examining it as a perfeel whole, is to 
examine it in fuch a light, as will not 
admit the inveftigation of parts. 

529 Others, 

( 39 ) 

529 Others, &c. Some painters copy exactly what 
they fee. In this there is more mechani- 
cal preciiion, than genius. Others take 
a general, comprehenfrce view of their ob- 
ject ; and marking juft the charatterijlic 
points, lead the fpedtator, if he be a man 
of tafte, and genius likewife, into a truer 
knowledge of it, than the copier can do, 
with all his painful exaclnefs. 

563 Why then degrade ', &c. If by bringing the 
figures forward on the foreground, you 
give room for character, and exprefion, 
you put them out of place as appendages, 
for which they were intended. 

581 Oft jlowly winding, &c. The machine itfelf 
here defcribed is picturefque : and when 
it is feen in winding motion, or (in other 
words) when half of it is feen in per- 
fpective, it receives additional beauty 
from contraft. In the fame manner a 
cavalcade, or an army on it's march, may 
be conlidered as one objeft ; and derive 
beauty from the fame fource. Mr. Gray 
has given us a very piclurefque view 
of this kind, in defcribing the march of 
Edward Ij 

As down the fleep of Snowdon's fhaggy fide 
He wound with toilfome march his long array. 
Stout Gloucefter flood aghaft in fpeechlefs trance : 
To arms! cried Mortimer; and couched his quivering lance. 


C 40 ) 

Through a paflage in the mountain we fee 
the troops winding round at a great 
diftance. Among thofe nearer the eye, 
we diftinguiih the horfe and foot ; and 
on the foreground, the action, and ex- 
predion of the principal commanders. 
The ancients ieem to have known very little 
of that fource of the piclurefque, which 
arifes from perfpeclive : every thing is in- 
troduced in front before the eye: and 
among the early painters we fee very lit- 
tle more attention paid to it. Raphael is 
far from making a full Life of the know- 
ledge of it ; and I believe Julio Romano 
makes ftill lefs. 

I do not remember meeting any where 
with a more piccurefque defcription of a 
line of march, than in Vaillant's travels into 
the interior parts of Africa. He was 
palling with a numerous caravan, along 
the borders of Caffraria. I firfr, fays he, 
made the people of the hord, which 
accompanied me, fet out with their cat- 
tle : and a little after my cattle followed ; 
cows, fheep, and goats; with all the 
women of the hord, mounted on oxen 
with their children. My waggons, with 
the reft of my people, clofed the rear. 
I rhyfelf, mounted on horfeback, rode 
backwards, and forewards. This caravan 


( 4* ) 

on it's march, exhibited often a fingu-^ 
Jar, and amufing fpectacle. The turns 
it was obliged to make in following the 
windings of the Woods, and rocks, con- 
tinually gave it new forms. Sometimes 
it intirely difappeared : then fuddenly, at 
a diftance, from the fummit of a hill, I 
again difcovered my vanguard flowly ad- 
vancing perhaps towards a diftant moun- 
tain : while the main body, following the 
track, were juft below me. 
595 This rule indeed applies to all other objects : 
but as the fhip is fo large a machine, 
and at the fame time fo complicated a 
one, it's character is lefs obvious, than 
that of moft other objects. It is much 
better therefore, where a veffel is necef- 
fary, to put in a few touches for a (kifF; 
than to infert fome difagreeable form for 
a fhip, to which it has no refemblance. 
At the fame time, it is not at all necef- 
fary to make your fhip fo accurate, that 
a feaman could find no fault with it. It 
is the fame in figures : as appendages of 
landfcape there is no neceffity to have 
them exactly accurate ; but if they have 
not the general form, and charatter of 
what they reprefent, the landfcape is 
better without them. 

E 603 they 

I 42 ) 

603 They feem, &c. Rapid motion alone, and that 
near the eye> is here cenfured. We 
fhould be careful not to narrow too much 
the circumfcribed fphere of art. There 
is an art of feeing, as well as of painting. 
The eye mull in part enter into the 
deception. The art of painting muft, in 
fome degree, be confidered as an act of 
convention. General forms only are imi- 
tated, and much is to be fupplied by the 

imagination of the fpedator. It is 

thus in drama. How abfurdly would the 
fpectator act, if inflead of aflifling the 
illufion of the ftage, he fhould infill on 
being deceived, without being a party in 
the deception ? — if he refufed to believe, 
that the light he faw, was the fun; or 
the fcene before him, the Roman ca- 
pital, becaufe he knew the one was a 
candle-light, and the other, a painted 
cloth ? The painter therefore muft in 
many things fuppofe deception; and only 
avoid it, where it is too palpably grqfs for 
the eye to fuffer. 

636 Guido's air, no doubt, is often very pleafing. 
He is thought to have excelled in ima- 
gining the angelic character ; and, as 
if aware of this fuperiority, was fond of 
painting angels. After all, however, they, 
whofe tafte is formed on the fimplicity 


( 43 ) 

of the antique, think Guido's air, in ge- 
neral fomewhat theatrical. 

638 Skilful they, &c. The greateft abftruclion to 

the progrefs of art arifes from the pre- 
judices of conceited judges; who, in fad:, 
know lefs about the matter, than they, 
who know nothing : inafmuch as truth 
is lefs obvious to error, than it is to 
ignorance. Till they can be prevailed 
on to return upon their fteps, and look 
for that criterion in nature, which they 
feek in the half-perifhed works of great 
names ; the painter will be difcouraged 
from purfuing knowledge in thofe paths, 
where Raphael, and Titian found it. 

639 What if thefe compare, &c. Bruyere obferves, 

that the inferior critic judges only by 
comparifon. In one fenfe all judgment 
muft be formed on comparifon. But 
Bruyere, who is fpeaking of poetry, 
means, that the inferior critic has no 
fcale of judging of a work of art, but 
by comparing it with fome other work 
of the fame kind. He judges of Virgil 
by a comparifon with Homer ; and of 
Spencer by comparing him with TafTo. 
By fuch criticifm he may indeed arrive 
at certain truths ; but he will never form 
that mafterly judgment, which he might 
do by comparing the work before him 


( 44- ) 

with the great archetypes of nature, and 

the folid rules of his art. What 

Bruyere fays of the critic in poetry, is 
very applicable to the critic in painting. 
The inferior critic, who has travelled, 
and feen the works of many great matters, 
fuppofes he has treafured up from them 
the ideas of perfection ; and inftead of 
judging of a picture by the rules of 
painting, and it's agreement with nature, 
he judges of it by the arbitrary idea# he 
has conceived ; and thefe too very pro- 
bably much injured in the conception. 
From this comparative mode of criti- 
cizing, the art receives no advancement. 
All we gain, is, that one artift paints 
better than another. 





JL WO facing page 19. It is the intention of thefe 
two prints to illuftrate how very adverfe the 
idea of fmoothnefs is to the competition of 
landfcape. In the fecond of them the great 
lines of the landfcape are exactly the fame 
as in the firft. ; only they are more broken. 
Two facing p. 75. The firft of thefe prints is 
meant to illuftrate the idea of fimple illumi- 
nation. The light falls ftrongly on various 
parts; as indeed it often does in nature. 
But as it is the painter's bulinefs to take 
nature in her molt beautiful form, he chufes 
to throw his light more into a mafs, as re- 
prefented in the fecond print, which exhi- 
bits the fame landfcape, only better inlight- 
ened. When we merely take the lines of 
a landfcape from nature; and inlighten it 
* (as 

( a ) 

(as we muft often do) from our own tafte, 
and judgment, the mailing of the light 
muft be well attended to, as one of the 
great fources of beauty. It muft not be 
fcattered in fpots; but mult be brought 
more together, as on the rocky fide of the 
hill in the fecond print: and yet it muft 
graduate alfo in different parts ; fo as not 
to appear affected. 

One print facing p. 77. The idea of gradation is 
here farther illuftrated ; according to the 

explanation in p. 76. The infcription 

is that admired one of Caecilia Metella, 
the daughter of Metellus, and the wife of 
Craflus ; in which, with fo much elegant, 
and tender Simplicity, her name is divided 
between her father, and her hulband. 

One facing p. 79. This print exemplifies ^fimple 
mode of tinting a drawing, as explained in 
the text. The colouring of this print 
(which is done by hand) has added a little 
to the expence of the book : but it was 
thought neceffary to compleat the fcheme. 
— It was coloured by a relation of mine ; 
Mr. Gilpin, drawing-mafterat Paddington- 
green ; who in all the copies I have feen, 
has illuftrated my ideas very Satisfactorily ; 
and who, as far as the recommendation of a 
partial kinfman may go, deferves mine. 


( "i ) 

One facing p. 85. This print is an explanation of 
a few rules in perfpective ; juft fufficient 
for the ufe of common landfcape. 


For, becaufe he could net ha-ve given it, read, becaufe it receives. 

page 16. 
For, if the colour be not changeable, it is the harmony vje admire, 

read, if the colours be not changeable, it is the harmony of 

them, which <voe admire, p. 23. 
For, circumjla?ice of the compojition, read, circumfances of the compo- 
fition. p. 76. 

Books publifhed by the fame Author. 

Lives of feveral Reformers. 
Lectures on the Church-catechifm. 
An ElTay on prints. 
Pidurefque remarks on the river Wye. 

on the lakes of Cumberland, and W> f 


■ ■ on the highlands of Scotland. 

— on Foreft-fcenery. 

An Expofition of the New Teftament, pointing out the 

leading fenfe, and connection of the facred writers. 
Life of John Trueman, &c. pr. iod. or 26 copies for i£. 

or 108 for 4.^. 


• ■■>•■■■•••.. 

*—4ftl >./£ *' 


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